The Milwaukee Bucks are eager to get back to the postseason. In the last two seasons, the Bucks finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA and fizzled out before reaching the NBA Finals. This year, they are the third seed in the Eastern Conference but boast the best team they’ve had in years. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks meet the Miami Heat, the team that ended their season last year, in the first round of the playoffs. There will surely be payback on the Bucks’ minds, but the Heat shouldn’t be the only team concerned.
Giannis Antetokounmpo “has improved” and that should scare everyone
Antetokounmpo won’t win the MVP his year, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a great season. The Bucks’ star has claimed the award the last two years and still put up MVP-type numbers this year. The Greek Freak played in 61 of his team’s 72 games and averaged 28.1 points and 11 rebounds per game.
In a conference call to preview ESPN’s television coverage, analyst Jalen Rose said Antetokounmpo is a better player than he was the last two seasons. “Giannis has improved,” Rose said, according to The Miami Herald. “He improved his shot. He improved not settling and, they just don’t have him only on the top of the floor operating. They put him on the wing. They put his back to the basket. He’s a better player.”
Rose wasn’t the only analyst to point it out. “When you look at the Bucks, the one thing I noticed about Giannis is his playmaking ability,” Kendrick Perkins said. ‘It keeps getting better every year. This year it’s really, really good. He’s passing the ball with a real purpose. He’s seeing the floor a whole lot better.”
The Bucks are better and were embarrassed last year
The Bucks were the No. 1 seed the last two seasons. They held the best record in the NBA both of those years. That pressure is off this year as they enter with a 46-26 mark and the third seed. They are also a better team with Jrue Holiday in the mix.
Package that with the fact they had an embarrassing early exit last year, and the Bucks should prove to be very dangerous this year. “This is a better Bucks team and they got humbled last year,” Rose said.
Holiday has proven to be a better all-around player than Eric Bledsoe. He’s a better long-range shooter and plays great defense. The Bucks also added Bobby Portis and PJ Tucker, adding a little more toughness to the team. They are a very deep and hungry team that’s seeking some revenge.
The Miami Heat shouldn’t be the only team concerned about the Milwaukee Bucks
Judging by talent alone, the Brooklyn Nets have to be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. With Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant playing together, they have to be the favorite, despite being the second seed. The Philadelphia 76ers hold the top spot after finishing one game ahead of the Nets at 49-23.
The Bucks were just three games out of first place. Both Rose and Perkins are expecting the Bucks to get by the Heat, although most probably felt that way a year ago. “The Bucks have revenge on their mind,” Perkins said. “They have one of the deepest teams in the NBA, and I think they will win this series in six.”
While all eyes will be on the Nets in the East, don’t sleep on the Bucks. The Bucks will get past the Heat and then make some noise throughout the postseason.