Bucks Return by Charging Past Celtics


Motor vehicle safety ads often warn drivers how a train can only stop long after hitting a car. Surely good advice. However, where was the warning for Marcus Smart? With the Bucks and Celtics tied with 1:28 left, Giannis Antetakounmpo barrelled towards the hoop, trying to give the Bucks a lead. Smart made a dumb play, trying to thwart the Freak. “Oh, great,” you may think, “another game where only the last two minutes mattered.” Not so! Consider the road the Bucks took to return, and you’ll understand how the Deer journeyed through agonizing boredom to the precipice of the Eastern Conference top seed.

Long Layoff

On March 9th, Denver defeated Milwaukee 109-95 for the Bucks’ third straight loss. While Giannis was nursing a leg injury, the Bucks seemed to have plenty of time to recover. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic quickly shut down the NBA. The Bucks maintained their dignity, but the months nevertheless dragged agonizingly. When Milwaukee finally restarted Friday afternoon, they wasted no time. Despite an embarrassing own-goal (such mistakes happen after 144 days off), the Bucks sprinted to a 17-2 lead! Their first bucket was especially memorable.

Brook Lopez could have scored first, but that wouldn’t have been exactly right. Instead, Giannis maturely whipped a pass to Wesley Matthews instead of charging. BANG!

Game over! Well, if the Bucks were playing the Nets, perhaps. Boston is a legitimate challenger, however. Refusing to quit, they battled back and kept the game close for 46:30. Then, Giannis said, “enough.”

Crucial Call

The officials initially called Giannis’s bucket a charge. It appeared Smart set himself.

Regrettably, it would have been the Freak’s sixth foul. Thankfully, the referees can review block/charge calls in the last two minutes. Smart, contrary to his complaints, had poor attention to detail. The refs changed the call to an and-one, keeping Giannis in the game.

After a Jaylen Brown miss, Khris Money Middleton effectively sealed the win.

Phew! The Bucks escaped 119-112. Where do they go from here before their (clinched) playoff run?

Sweet Eleven

While not the prettiest win, the Bucks ensured they need just one win or Raptors loss to clinch the top East seed. After this near-inevitability, Milwaukee can relax starter minutes before their first-round playoff series, starting August 17th. If the Bucks play the Nets or Wizards, their likeliest two opponents, they would have a great chance to win quickly. It would be a mistake, though, to wish away the next 11 games. They present an opportunity to see our heroes compete for Cream City glory.

True, the games are 1,246 miles from their beloved Milwaukee. That hindrance, however, won’t stop Giannis’s heart or stride. The Bucks train has officially left the station and will soon return to the playoffs. Their 8th seed opponent has but seven games to jump-start their stalled jalopy before the Bucks demolish their fleeting aspirations.

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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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