It’s finally time. After 82 regular season games, and an excruciating week without basketball as we awaited word on the Milwaukee Bucks Round One opponent, it’s Playoff basketball time.
Where We’re At
The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t played a meaningful basketball game since wrapping up the one seed on April 5 with a win against the Chicago Bulls. It looked hairy for a bit there, but the team pulled through and let its regulars rest up for 11 days here. The most important news over that span (beyond who their opponent is) was that it seems the team will be fully operational for Game One.
After today’s practice, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters that Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton and Khris Middleton were all full participants in practice today.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) April 13, 2023
Allen and Brook Lopez said today was the most intense scrimmaging they’ve done since the All-Star Break.
Khris Middleton’s injury in said Bulls game was the last remaining domino to fall into place for this team, and Bud has his full complement of guys going into their quest for another championship.
As for the Heat, well, they get a chance to enact some revenge on Milwaukee for pantsing them in the 2021 playoffs. After scraping by with the moistness of Khris Middleton’s jumper in Game One, Milwaukee rolled over Miami for the duration of that series. There are ghosts of the bubble, but I considered them entirely exorcised at that point. The Heat aren’t the same formidable foe they once were, although Jimmy Butler still remains a potent postseason threat. They pulled out a 102-91 victory over the Chicago Bulls that looks a lot more like a blowout than it really was, with Miami overtaking Chicago in the final few minutes.
Player to Watch
Coming off his injury, how will Khris Middleton look? The MRI came back clean, thank goodness, but he still never played in back-to-backs during the regular season and this team relied upon a heavy minute load for him during their championship run. My first note after this game will be seeing just how many minutes Bud puts Khris out there. This team needs him to be fiddle 2B or at least third fiddle if they want to win it all this year. The auditions are over, it’s showtime for Khris.
Game One: Against Miami, the Bucks will...
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Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)