With LeBron’s move out west, the Milwaukee Bucks are among the favorites to reach the NBA Finals. Milwaukee may be a new title contender but the franchise is filled with rich history. It was the Bucks who drafted Lewis Alcindor Jr. with the first pick in the 1969 Draft.
Before becoming the greatest scorer in basketball history as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the Bucks center teamed up with Oscar Robertson to win the 1971 NBA Championship.
The Celtics, Sixers, and Pistons will be remembered for dominating the Eastern Conference in the 1980s but Milwaukee was right there every season. The Bucks made the playoffs every year in the eighties and were the only team to steal a victory against the iconic “Fo’ Fo’ Fo’” Sixers team who won the 1983 title.
Milwaukee was a game away from a return to the NBA Finals in 2001 thank to the coaching of NBA legend George Karl and the shooting of Ray Allen and Sam Cassell.
The Bucks are now on the verge of reigniting the franchise and dethroning the Warriors. Despite Milwaukee maintaining the best record in the NBA for most the season, there is some hesitation to jump on the Bucks’ bandwagon.
The Celtics’ Brad Stevens is often praised for his ability to maximize his teams’ talents whereas Mike Budenholzer seems to get overlooked.
Some of the hesitation to jump on the Milwaukee bandwagon may be due to their coach’s recent history. Budenholzer, who was named Coach of the Year in 2015, led the Atlanta Hawks to the best record in the Eastern Conference back in 2015 but they were swept out of the playoffs by a LeBron James-led Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving on the sidelines for half the series.
Budenholzer is pulling out some of his old tricks as he’s made the Bucks three-point threat similar to how he did in Atlanta. Under Budenholzer, the Hawks increased their three-point attempts in each of their first four seasons. The Hawks notably won a 19 straight behind a balanced approach and sound fundamentals.
This season, the Bucks are averaging over 37 threes per game, trailing only the Houston Rockets for the league lead. Last season the Bucks averaged 24.7 threes in each contest and ranked 25th.
The most surprising statistic about the Bucks three-point attack may the team leader in attempts is 7-footer Brook Lopez who takes 6.5 threes per game.
The Milwaukee area has long associated its sports identity with the NFL’s Green Bay Packers however, the Bucks are one of eleven NBA teams to have never moved locations or changed their name.
The pride and joy of the Midwest is due for a turn and with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the charge, it may only be a matter of time before Milwaukee becomes a basketball city.
The Greek Freak is among the NBA favorites with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Paul George.
Antetokounmpo is joined by a team of savvy playmakers and fellow All-Star Khris Middleton, who shined during the All-Star game with 20 points off the bench knocking down six threes. Milwaukee appears to have all the right pieces in all the right places.
Come April, May, and June, we’ll see if Milwaukee gets stage fright in the bright playoff lights or if it’s time for the rest of the NBA to “Fear the Deer.”