clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Roundtable: Milwaukee Bucks 2023 NBA Playoff Predictions

And here...we...go!

Milwaukee Bucks v Washington Wizards Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

Welcome back to yet another year of the Brew Hoop Round Table, where we ask that everybody use coasters and please don’t feed the aging pugs from the table, thanks. The Playoffs are upon us, so it’s time to see how the staff feels about this Milwaukee Bucks team as they pursue another championship.

What’s your prediction in Round One?

Adam: I’m writing this before I even know who Milwaukee’s first round opponent is. But one thing I do know...the series will be done in five games.

Van: You can read more of my musings in the series preview I wrote yesterday, but in general, this is the best Bucks roster they’ve assembled under Bud and I feel more confident in them currently than before any postseason I can remember. Bucks in four.

Kyle: Bucks in 5, I’m sure there will be a shooting variance night but they are head and shoulder better than almost any team in the east.

Gabe: As Van said, this is the best Bucks squad we’ve seen in the last three years. However, my anticipation is that this series will conclude in five games. Milwaukee will win every home game but the Heat will snag one on their home floor.

Julie: Bucks in 6. I think we sleep on Miami a bit too much, me included, and we are struggling with health and possibly rust. This is exactly why it's beneficial to not have Philly or Boston in round 2.

Morgan: Bucks in 5. If the Bulls snagged one game last year, the Heat can clown their way to one as well.

Dru: I agree with the overall consensus that the Bucks will win their series with the Miami Heat in 5 games. The Heat will most likely snag one of the two games down in Florida, before Milwaukee washes the taste of losing out of their mouths and goes into beast mode for the rest of the series (and beyond!)

What Milwaukee player are you most intrigued to watch this postseason?

Adam: I can’t quit Pat. I was just rewatching Game Five against Phoenix, and partway through the game the announcers commented how he had made the most three-pointers in the series to that point. I can’t get over how critical he was to smallball lineups and that title run as a whole. It seems like Bud has lost some faith in him given his shot has escaped him this year, but I just fully believe in going down with the Pat ship this postseason.

Van: Joe Ingles, even in his current state, was a player the Bucks really could have used last postseason after Khris Middleton’s injury. He’s a 39.2% shooter from deep across 45 career playoff games, he can set the offense, he passes well, and has good chemistry on the pick & roll with multiple teammates. He also had the size (if not the athleticism) to counter Tatum and Brown defensively, but those guys would have gotten theirs regardless, and defense wasn’t what lost that series for Milwaukee. But the halfcourt offense—which, by the way, has ranked third league-wide in ORtg since Middleton’s return on January 23rd—that got so woefully stagnant last spring? He’s an obvious antidote. If this is the year the Bucks’ offense finally looks good in the postseason, Ingles should get some credit.

Gabe: Give me Jevon Carter. Last season, the talk was all about his defense. His intensity fits right in with this Milwaukee squad and with Budenholzer’s philosophy. In addition to picking up opposing guards the length of the floor, his offense has taken an incredible turn this season, providing the Bucks with a jolt numerous times during the regular season campaign. In the playoffs, there’s sure to be a game where Giannis, Khris, and Jrue may not have a game where they’re at the best. In times like that, it’s going to be critical to have other guys step up, and Jevon Carter fits that mold perfectly. I can see him having a few huge games in that manner.

Julie: I want to see how Khris does, with his season being injured and a struggle for much of it, compared to years past

Morgan: I’ll say Jae. We haven’t seen him as a Buck in the playoffs, and when we have seen him as a non-Bucks, oof. I’m hoping that trend continues. Anticipating the next question, I’m also curious how the minutes shake out between him and the aforementioned gentlemen. I know we traded for him expressly for the playoffs, but Bud tends to lean on folks with experience with his system, and he was the last rotation option to join the roster.

Dru: To keep with the trend of each of us picking a different player, I’m going with Jrue Holiday. I’m a huge Holiday fan, and he enjoyed himself one helluva season, but he’s also struggled a bit with his offense during the postseason in the past. To be clear — I’m not concerned about his defense in the slightest. But keeping an eye on his offensive numbers will be interesting, especially after one of the best seasons of his career where he averaged 19.3 points/game (second—highest mark of his career)

Kyle: Bobby Portis will be in the rotation but we have seen Bud lot against using him depending on the matchup/situation. The Bucks’ bench will rely on making threes and while Bobby isn’t the exception, his ability to score in other areas on the floor will be vital.

It’s an elimination game, and you only get a nine-man rotation. Who makes the cut for you?

Adam: The core four, plus Jae Crowder, Pat Connaughton, Joe Ingles, Wesley Matthews and Jevon Carter.

Van: Nine guys in a rotation seem like a lot for the postseason, but even so, that’s a number for which the Bucks can assemble a group that would arguably be the league’s best. Start Giannis, Middleton, Lopez, and Holiday obviously. Without knowing who the opponent is, the next five are tricky. Against Boston, I’d want Crowder, Ingles, Matthews, Connaughton, and Allen. Against Philly or Cleveland, I’d replace Connaughton with Carter and Matthews with Portis.

Gabe: Giannis, Middleton, Lopez, Holiday, Crowder, Ingles, Carter, Allen, and Portis for his intensity. However, if Allen can’t find his shot and defense is needed, give me Wesley Matthews.

Morgan: I think Giannis, Khris, Jrue, Brook, Jae, and Jingles are the six-man rotation. I’m happy with rotating minutes among the remaining folks on a game-to-game or series-to-series basis depending on matchups and freshness. The Bucks are fortunate and relatively unique that they have solid guys in spots seven through eleven, but since they all have key drawbacks, I would rather have a few minutes of fresh legs from each of them rather than putting all of my (flax) eggs in a few of their baskets.

Julie: Thank goodness we have 9. Middleton, Holiday, Lopez, Portis, Crowder, Ingles, Allen, Carter. I don't trust Pat right now.

Oh, and Giannis!

Dru: The 9-man rotation would 100% depend on who the Bucks were battling, but I’ll just pick the 9 I would want on the floor for the strongest defense — Giannis, Jrue, Khris, Brooke, Jae, Jingles, Wes, Jevon, and Pat...with Pat getting the least amount of playing time.

Kyle: Giannis, Khris, Brook, Jrue, Bobby, Jae, Grayson, Ingles, and Jevon. Pat just misses out but it’s hard to justify him playing ahead of others who have hit shots.

What’s your confidence level in Khris Middleton heading into the Playoffs?

Adam: It’s going to be such a fascinating test case for Middleton this postseason. I think he was soundly Milwaukee’s second best player in the title run, but recently readers even voted Brook above him as potentially the second best player. Khris remains perhaps their best pick-and-roll creator, their most vital pull-up threat and an offensive engine unto himself who likely will have to take on a greater load with Jrue’s defensive intensity ramping up. My question is whether he’ll have it on the defensive end, where he’s certainly seen effort wane during the regular season. I’d say I’m still fairly confident in Khris.

Van: Reasonably solid. Last week’s knee issue seems minor enough, as he practiced normally on Thursday (as did Connaughton and Allen). Since the All-Star break, he’s looked typically comfortable operating in the midrange and in isolation, two areas that become a lot more important in the postseason. Better yet, even through his outside shooting woes, he’s been an assist machine for months now at well over six dimes per game since the All-Star break. He looks ready to be the key part of the offense that Milwaukee needs him to be. Defensive questions are fair; though he certainly brought it during the title run, it’s been a while since we’ve seen him locked in. With Crowder involved to take some of the load off Middleton on the wing, any falloff on that end will hopefully be mitigated.

Gabe: I firmly believe that the Bucks rested him the final stretch of the season strictly for precautionary reasons. It may take a little bit of time for him to re-discover his footing, but that’s what the first round is for. He was developing his scoring touch as he was getting more games under his belt, and I anticipate to continue as we get further into the playoffs. As Van mentioned, despite his scoring being what Bucks fans and folks around the NBA know him the best for, he’s been impacting the game in other ways as well this season, especially with his assists. If he’s able to flip the switch and bring his killer instinct against the Celtics after missing last year’s clash, that’d be absolutely massive for Milwaukee.

Morgan: It’s not hyperbolic to say that, during the championship run, Khris won a game per series single-handedly. There are quarters where he catches fire and carries the team to a win. I am fairly confident that he will be a steady contributor in the playoffs, but the question is whether he’ll be able to recreate that Khash Money Magic. On the one hand, showing up for one quarter a series is arguably a lower bar to clear than consistent success. On the other hand, since Khris can show up at such a high level, that is arguably a higher bar. Ultimately, I’m not sure that Khris will be able to clear that bar, requiring Jrue to offset some of that clutch-time magic.

Julie: I'll go with 7 out of 10. He's been great sometimes, but is he going to knock down a key jumper when it's on the line? I think I trust him less than Holiday and more than Lopez.

Dru: It’s reasonable for fans to be worried about Khris given the injuries he’s dealt with throughout the regular season. I totally get it. But I think we should all take a deep breath and find it within ourselves to believe in our guy. When he has played this year, he’s looked pretty darn good and I agree with Gabe that it feels like the Bucks were resting him out of an abundance of caution for the final stretch of the season.

Kyle: 5/10 The Bucks won’t need Khris until later in the postseason but he’s had an injury hampered season and the start and stop could affect his rhythm.

Finally, how far do you see this Bucks team going?

Adam: Maybe it’s a jinx, but I feel confident in this team winning it all. If they get past Boston, I fully expect a victory. Their team is deeper than two years ago, Jrue Holiday is a better offensive player than the title run, and Bud has many more options to deploy in these Playoffs than years past. Give me Milwaukee all the way.

Van: I’m sticking with my preseason prediction that they’ll make the NBA Finals, one-upping it with the expectation that they’ll take home another title. If they do indeed face Boston in several weeks as we’ve all anticipated—but plenty has to go right for the Celtics to make it that far too, so they’re no guarantee either—I have faith we’ll see a much different outcome than their regular season matchups, with last season’s Game 6 and 7 still fresh in the minds of Bud, Giannis, etc. The only West matchup that gives me pause is Phoenix, but it would be a bit unprecedented for them to make it that far, let alone win it all... if they can stay healthy.

Gabe: This depth on this Bucks team is out of this world. Mike Budenholzer has so many options he can go to. However, the only thing that I can see blocking them from winning it all is health. That was the case last year, as Middleton went down against the Bulls in the first round and Milwaukee was unable to complete the job against Boston in the following round. I think this year is different and the Bucks end up winning their second title in three years.

Morgan: I’m confident in the Bucks and less confident in other teams. Boston is probably the biggest threat, but we’ve retooled with them in mind. Bucks in six.

Julie: Two years ago we relied on Bryn Forbes, Jeff Teague, Pat and PJ Tucker as our 7-10 (prior to the DiVincenzo injury). Our 7-10 now blows that crew out of the water. How do you not pick us?

Dru: If we can get passed the Ugly Green Monster, the rest will be downhill. Sure, I know we have to get to the Conference Finals first. I don’t mean any disrespect to the Miami Heat and whoever we face in round two, but for my money’s worth the C’s are the only legitimate threat to taking away the chip. If we can stay healthy and Khris is playing at even 70% capacity, a series with Boston is going to look different than it did last postseason. No one in the West really concerns me in a 7-game series, to be completely frank and honest.

Kyle: The only team that is stopping Milwaukee from getting back to the finals is the Celtics while the west is a toss up to know how the finals could go. Having home court will be beneficial.

Now it’s your turn! Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

What’s your prediction in Round One?

What Milwaukee player are you most intrigued to watch this postseason?

It’s an elimination game, and you only get a nine-man rotation. Who makes the cut for you?

What’s your confidence level in Khris Middleton heading into the Playoffs?

Finally, how far do you see this Bucks team going?