BLOGTABLE: The case for and against the Bucks making the Finals?
NBA.com Global on Apr 05, 2019 09:15 AM
BROOKLYN, NY - FEBRUARY 4: Eric Bledsoe #6 of the Milwaukee Bucks shoots the ball against the Brooklyn Nets on February 4, 2019 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
Your case for and against the Milwaukee Bucks going all the way to the NBA Finals?
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Shaun Powell: Here's my case for the Bucks: Their defense has been stellar all season, their rate of improvement as a high-volume 3-point shooting team (No. 2 in the NBA) might be unprecedented from one season to another, and some guy named Giannis Antetokounmpo. My case against the Bucks: The core of the team has never tasted the first week of May before. In a seven-game series, someone other than Giannis might need to be a hero for the Bucks. They'll likely need to go through the Boston Celtics and then either the Toronto Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers in the final two rounds, and either of those teams are capable of getting hot and throwing as much (if not more) smoke in Milwaukee's direction.
John Schuhmann: Making the case for the Bucks is pretty easy. They've had the East's best offense, overall, in games played within the conference, and in games played between the top five teams. They've also had the East's best defense, overall, in games within the conference, and in games played between the top five teams. The Bucks have the shooting to punish defenses for paying too much attention to Giannis Antetokounmpo. And defensively, they've been the best in the league at both preventing and defending the most important shots on the floor (those near the basket). Because their defense allows a lot of 3-point attempts, though, the Bucks can be beat from beyond the arc from time to time. Two of the other top teams in the East -- the Boston Celtics and Toronto Raptors -- rank in the top 10 in both 3-point percentage and the percentage of their shots that have come from 3-point range. Of course, the case against the Bucks starts with health. If Malcolm Brogdon is out beyond the first round or if Giannis Antetokounmpo's injured right ankle doesn't fully heal by the conference semifinals, the Bucks will be vulnerable.
Sekou Smith: There's a legitimacy to being the league's best team from the start of training camp until the playoffs start that should serve these Bucks well. Coach Mike Budenholzer's experience guiding teams in this territory gives the Bucks some institutional knowledge about how to navigate this part of the process. Their efficiency on both ends of the floor is the best indicator of the Bucks' viability as a true title contender. Having the chemistry as a group that they have, with Giannis Antetokounmpo as the centerpiece of what they do, I can see this Bucks team in The Finals. The case against them begins their one glaring flaw, and that's the fact that this group is still yet to win a series together. They have some hurdles to clear to probe to themselves and the rest of us that they are ready for prime time. Matchups will be critical, of course. And keeping their main rotation players as healthy as possible for a long run is paramount. At this point, however, I think the case for is stronger than than the case against these Bucks making The Finals.