Bucks Lead

What Would a Bucks-Warriors Finals Look Like?

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The Bucks shocked the NBA Nation last Thursday by beating the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors 134-111. The old coaches’ cliche is “one game at a time” and certainly one playoff series. The reality is, however, that Golden State is the prohibitive favorite in the west and Milwaukee is now co-favorite in the east. This makes an appetizing Dubs-Bucks finals suddenly plausible. It may only be November, but why not fantasize a bit about who would have the edge in a June series?

Five Bucks Advantages

1. Paint Dominance

Usually, the sure sign of an overmatched team is a huge disparity in the paint, where the smaller team is ground out. One may argue that this doesn’t matter so much in the NBA, where there are so many outside shots. But the Bucks had an 84-34, that’s right, 84-34 advantage inside in Oakland. No amount of threes can overcome that! With Draymond Green out, Giannis terrified the Warriors:

I’d take a steady Giannis over an incensed Green any game, so definitely advantage Bucks here.

2. Underdog Swagger

Giannis’s look in this video (at the 0:37 mark) says just about everything on Milwaukee’s mindset:

Quite frankly, this swaggering mentality would be ridiculous for the perceived best team. But the Bucks have never been this team! The Warriors played with a free and loose attitude for three years before expectations and fatigue crushed them last year. Curry opined that the determined Bucks are right where his team was in 2015. No arguments here!

3. Focus

One must go beyond the box score for this one. Everybody agrees that Giannis is a leading MVP candidate. But there seems to be a new book on the Greek Freak. No, not one at the store! A new tougher way to officiate the unique player, with charging and traveling being called much too tightly. But Giannis has maintained his aggressive yet controlled attack pattern without too typical star whininess. While the Jason Kidd Bucks were very inconsistent, the Bucks shook off sloppiness in LA Saturday and almost stole the game. The deer will no longer blink in headlights.

4. Fewer Distractions

Basketball is such a popular sport that even small colleges almost burn the gym down during introductions. But the Warriors are especially glitzy.

There’s so much hoopla surrounding the Dubs that the team can’t so much as breathe without getting 100,000 views. In the 2017 playoffs, the team was even criticized for bemoaning there’s less to do in Utah than California. Meanwhile, Bucks fans complain their team is underreported. But if that enables them to focus on the dribble and shot, so much the better.

5. Embracing Expectations

This point is a bit deeper than two and three. Sure, underdogs get less press and play harder. But the Bucks, unlike other struggling franchises, strongly embrace the past, warts and all. This lets Giannis and Khris Middleton help a loaded roster understand the seriousness of the team’s quest for validation of a city’s trust. That’s more profound than “hey let’s win again, why stop at three rings?”

Five Warriors Advantages

1. Depth

This isn’t the wide-open jumper it appears. The Bucks have a strong rotation that’s finally optimizing its potential. Sure, Giannis played great in Oakland, but even Wilt Chamberlain can’t score 134 points. Giannis led a charge of many talented players:

But don’t overthink it. No one can match five All-Stars.

2. Playoff Experience

Steve Kerr has the best playoff win percentage in NBA history. And as last year’s Cavs proved, experience can often mean more than talent. Kerr has lost exactly one playoff series, and it took superball from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. No doubt the Bucks could win several games, but the grind of four rounds in a row may be too much by June.

3. Outside Shooting

Certainly, the Bucks are no slouch here! In fact, they actually lead the NBA in three-point makes so far this year. But, again, common sense must come into play from the bigger perspective. If Klay Thompson can break his teammate’s record for threes in a game a month into the season, everyone else is simply imitating.

4. Winning Culture

Culture is an ephemeral word when not in the hands of anthropologists. But while it’s getting tired, the Warriors have the lead here. There’s still too much talk of the 2001 glory days for the Bucks to have the same conditioning to success, which brews assured play. This will come but may take several years.

5. Carefree Enthusiasm

Unfortunately, the Warriors’ angst of 2018 has been unloaded. They again play with supreme confidence and laugh at the haters. Even Jimmy Butler can’t resist cheering!

The Rockets had a 3-2 lead last May, and the advantage was meaningful for all of a half before an avalanche of threes in Oakland. Usually, luck seems to go against the best team, perhaps signifying regression to the mean. Well, the mean means nothing to this decade’s best franchise.

Verdict

The deer are no dinner anymore, but most teams understand that 29 squads are playing for 2020. The Warriors just have too much talent to be beaten four out of seven times. However, advancing to the finals would allow Milwaukee to eliminate those first-time butterflies. And when the Warriors bust for free agent money, and Milwaukee gains experience and confidence? There’ll be celebrations in Oakland alright– in a game six clincher in the visiting locker room.

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About Jeffrey Newholm

"Jammin Jeff" Newholm had been a basketball fanatic since his high school days, and remained a casual fan as a student in Whitewater. Wishing to check in as an active participant, he also completed a writing certificate program at UWM. He loves seeing Bucks games more than any other activity in hometown Milwaukee and especially screaming really really loudly to get someone to miss a free throw. Twitter: @JeffreyNewholm

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