2019 NBA Playoffs Team Preview: Milwaukee Bucks - Odds to Win the NBA Championship
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Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer
Home: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
The Milwaukee Bucks haven’t been a relevant franchise in serious consideration for the NBA title in a long time. In fact, since their last NBA Conference Finals appearance in 2001, the Milwaukee Bucks have failed to get past the first round in eighteen years. That all changed this year, as the Bucks made a name for themselves as the NBA’s top team.
The Bucks were good, but it was their top performers that pushed them to the top ranking in the NBA:
- (F) Giannis Antetokounmpo – 27.7 PPG | 12.5 RPG | .641 2P%
- (F) Khris Middleton – 18.2 PPG | 6.1 RPG | .377 3P%
- (C) Brook Lopez – 12.6 PPG | 2.2 BPG | .365 3P%
The Milwaukee Bucks own both the Eastern Conference crown and the NBA regular season crown by accumulating the leagues best record. It will serve them well, giving them homecourt advantage over every opposing team in the post-season. The Bucks are an unstoppable offensive force, but they are reliant on their role players to bring it all together. Budenholzer and Antetokounmpo will hope they can maintain their play.
|(PG) Eric Bledsoe||6-1, 205lb||8 Years||Kentucky/USA|
|(PG) Malcolm Brogdon||6-5, 229lb||2 Years||Virginia/USA|
|(SF) Khris Middleton||6-8, 222lb||6 Years||Texas A&M/USA|
|(PF) Giannis Antetokounmpo||6-11, 242lb||5 Years||Greece|
|(C) Brook Lopez||7-0, 270lb||10 Years||Stanford/USA|
|(PG/SG) George Hill||6-3, 188lb||10 Years||IUPUI/USA|
|(PG) Tim Frazier||6-1, 170lb||4 Years||Penn State/USA|
|(SG) Pat Connaughton||6-4, 209lb||3 Years||Notre Dame/USA|
|(SG) Donte DiVincenzo inj||6-4, 203lb||Rookie||Villanova/USA|
|(SG) Sterling Brown||6-6, 232lb||1 Year||Southern Methodist/USA|
|(SF) Tony Snell||6-7, 213lb||5 Years||New Mexico/USA|
|(SF) Bonzie Colson tw||6-6, 224lb||Rookie||Notre Dame/USA|
|(PF) Ersan Ilyasova||6-10, 235lb||10 Years||Turkey|
|(PF) Nikola Mirotic||6-10, 250lb||4 Years||Montenegro/Spain|
|(PF) DJ Wilson||6-10, 231lb||1 Year||Michigan/USA|
|(C) Pau Gasol||7-0, 250lb||17 Years||Spain|
tw: denotes that the player is on a two-way contract and is therefore ineligible for playoff participation.
inj: denotes that the player is injured for the season and will not compete in the post-season.
Notable Roster Moves
7 Feb 2019 – As part of a 3-team trade, the Milwaukee Bucks traded Jason Smith, a 2019 2nd round draft pick, a 2020 2nd round draft pick, a 2020 2nd round draft pick and a 2021 2nd round draft pick to the New Orleans Pelicans; the Milwaukee Bucks traded Thon Maker to the Detroit Pistons; the Detroit Pistons traded Stanley Johnson to the New Orleans Pelicans; and the New Orleans Pelicans traded Nikola Mirotic to the Milwaukee Bucks. (Pick is DEN’s 2019 second-round pick, top-55 protected.) (Pick is WAS’s 2020 second-round pick.) (Pick is WAS’s 2021 second-round pick.)
7 Dec 2018 – As part of a 3-team trade, the Milwaukee Bucks traded Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, a 2021 1st round draft pick and a 2021 2nd round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers; the Cleveland Cavaliers traded George Hill and a 2021 2nd round draft pick to the Milwaukee Bucks.
How did the Bucks fare in ’18-’19?
With the addition of Mike Budenholzer as head coach, the Milwaukee Bucks went into the season with a new plan. To completely buy into the skills and abilities of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Like an unstoppable force, he became the primary playmaker for a Bucks team that punished people in the paint or from range. It led them to the top of the Eastern Conference and the NBA.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ longest winning streak was seven straight games.
Their longest losing streak was two straight games.
The Bucks also defined themselves as one of the leagues strongest home team this season, matched only by the Denver Nuggets in home wins.
What changes in the post-season for Giannis?
It is a cliche to say, but the pace play certainly slows down when the post-season begins. Teams are more careful with their possessions and thus limit the possibility of turnovers via the limitation of offensive possessions.
Frankly speaking, this doesn’t serve the interests of Giannis Antetokounmpo. Oppositions have found some success against the Bucks when crowding him in the half-court and forcing him into short-distance, pressured passes.
With Antetokounmpo’s weaknesses as a shooter, isolating one of his teammates in the half court is surely a popular strategy for opponents going forward.
If he can punish teams from range it will be a different story, but for now, teams will surely sit off of Antetokounmpo.
Middleton is Primed for a Breakout Post-Season
The Bucks may not have made it out of the first round for the past three seasons, but Middleton has been a mainstay for the years that they were involved. He has been brilliant for the Bucks, especially last year against Boston:
Middleton was unstoppable against the Celtics in the first round last season, shooting 61% from three on almost six attempts per game.
The Bucks are unlikely to get baskets in transition in the same fashion that they have during the regular season. As teams sit back to prevent fast-break opportunities, the Bucks will need to convert in half-court sets.
That’s where the Bucks will need Middleton most. When plays break down and late-clock situations occur, Middleton is as capable as Antetokounmpo.
Eric Bledsoe Can’t Fade This Year
A particularly streaky player, Bledsoe has turned in a fantastic year by his standards.
- 6 Jul 2019 – 33 PTS, 11 AST, 4 REB, 2 STL, 1 BLK, 5-6 3PA
- 27 Feb 2019 – 26 PTS, 13 AST, 12 REB, 11-20 FGA, 4-7 3PA
- 1 Apr 2019 – 29 PTS, 7 AST, 5 STL, 2 BLK, 10-19 FGA
He was certainly in consideration for an All-Star berth, but just barely missed the cut. As the year progressed though, Bledsoe regressed and showed some concerning trends going into the post-season.
Despite his individual skill, Bledsoe doesn’t quite fit what the Bucks are building. He’s better as a slashing guard, but instead, he is placed in the role of the spot-up shooter when playmaking duties are passed off.
The Bucks will hope that Bledsoe can either find his range or create easy baskets while defending well, in order to prove his value on the court.
What can the Bucks’ Bench Provide?
The truth of the Bucks as they enter the post-season is that they are going in while nursing a number of injuries. Eight different players are on the injured list but will look to recover and fight through their ailments when they debut.
Due to those injuries, expect the Bucks to go deep into their rotation during the first round of the playoffs.
In their last match, the Bucks took a good look at some of their auxiliary pieces. While not much can be taken from one match, the Bucks certainly wanted to see their own wares.
Tim Frazier, Bonzie Colson, and DJ Wilson all played 45+ minutes in the match. While none were particularly efficient, Wilson stood out with his ability on the boards to the tune of an 18 point and 17 rebound outing.
Who Are Threats to the Bucks?
Season Series: 3-1 MIL
The Toronto Raptors finished top five in the NBA in both offensive and defensive rating this season. The only other team to complete that task were the Bucks themselves. While the Bucks hold a 3-1 victory in the season series, the Toronto Raptors are a completely different team since their last match on January 31st. A series against the Raptors would have little in common with their previous meetings.
Golden State Warriors
Season Series: 1-1 tie
Each teams performance in this series has been rather one-sided. Their series was also early in the year, so both teams have changed drastically since their previous meeting. Both teams maintain high-powered offenses and disciplined defenses. A possible meeting in the Finals could be one of the best in recent history.
Season Series: 2-1 MIL
The Milwaukee Bucks won the season series against the Sixers, but the maximum potential of Philadelphia’s side should terrify any team in the NBA. Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris are four of the best players in the East at their position. While they’ve shown a lack of chemistry, any improvement on that could spell doom for even the well-balanced Bucks.
Milwaukee Bucks Odds and Predictions to win the NBA Championship
The Milwaukee Bucks have the best chance to win the Larry O’Brien trophy since the ’70s. With a strong coach and a talented supporting cast, the Bucks may not get a better chance. Can the Greek Freak become the Greek Legend? Their chances are high.
Odds to Win the NBA Championship
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