By: Jeffrey Newholm
Anyone who’s watched any basketball knows the ball can take some crazy bounces. The Bucks use this to their advantage with the local comedic troop the Rim Rockers, who jump off trampolines to dunk. Sunday in game four the ball bounced the Bucks’ way when Giannis tipped in a winner. But on Tuesday the ball nearly bounced the Bucks out of the playoffs. With three Bucks jumping on a downed Marcus Smart, who picked a great time to return from injury, Smart somehow passed the ball to Al Horford. Horford laid the ball in with a minute left to seal the game. How can Milwaukee salvage the season?
Giannis Antetokounmpo, who only took ten shots, stated after the game that he needed to be more aggressive. The Bucks have already proven they can play with intensity in Milwaukee. But can they accomplish this again after a letdown? In 2015 the Bucks won games four and five against the Bulls, then collapsed 66-120 in the clinching game. Last year Milwaukee furiously rallied from 25 down to try to avoid elimination against Toronto at home but still lost by three. This year the Bucks are a bit more mature and won’t get frustrated and routed. But they will need to play a balanced, complete game and stay poised in the last two minutes.
For years the Bucks have been marketing “own the future”. Even non-employee professional journalists have recently said that future dominance is very near. But just as the Brewers had enough of 1982 retro games when making their playoff push in 2008, surely the Bucks are tired of “the future”. The future is now. The Bucks undoubtedly have the talent to bounce back from the bad bounce and force a game seven. Although the road team has only won 20% of game sevens, home court means less now and the Bucks have twice made Celtics fans worry about more than which exit to take early. Thursday night Brad Stevens will take the clipboard again. The Greek Freak will take the rock, and make another mean face. Will the Bucks blink? Or will the young squad blaze a trail to the biggest game in 17 years?