By: Jeffrey Newholm
Despite shooting 59% the Bucks were still easily defeated by the Celtics 120-106 Tuesday night. Again the Bucks were too reliant on its two best players. Antetokounmpo and Middleton combined for 55 points on 23 of 31 shooting, but Joe Prunty cycled nine other players in and out to little effect. The Bucks now have steep odds of winning the series considering the team is 0-13 when trailing 0-2 in playoff series, while the Celtics are 35-0 when leading 2-0.
Pro sports can be brutal on young athletes’ minds. There are no moral victories: a win is a win, a loss is a loss. The Buck’s heroic effort to force overtime in game one didn’t carry over into the rematch. The team looked lethargic on both sides of the ball. Celtics writer Gary Washburn at one point tweeted, “Snell and Parker just sat there and watched the Celtics’ break. Bucks just look uninterested right now”. I observed a lot of sitting on offense too, with the Bucks beaten at their own game in the paint. Former Buck Greg Monroe deterred the Bucks on drives to the basket as Milwaukee often held the ball, puzzled. Also, many of the team’s 15 turnovers were very careless, while the Celtics only had five for the game.
With the Bucks having lost seven first round series in a row, and the team’s website only able to muster up info on Antetokounmpo’s jersey sales as the lead story, the team now limps into the next two games in Milwaukee. On the corner of Fourth and State the team is now figuratively, as well as literally, at a crossroads.
It’s easy to rationalize that the team will do well next year at the new arena. Next year with a new coach. Next year with a more mature Giannis. But even before the first step in a journey of a million miles, a team must resolve that things will turn around at the current moment, the only moment man really has. Giannis and Middleton have a few days to take a deep breath to gather the team and remind them that no NBA champion ever quit when behind, nor won a title without losing a playoff game. And then take the first step: launching off a raucous home crowd to halve the series deficit.