DEER IN THE HEADLIGHTS

2023-04-28 · 2 min read · NBA/Basketball
Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee Bucks

Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

Wow. It’s going to be a long summer for the Milwaukee Bucks.
As we all continue to digest what in the world just happened here, let's start by outlining two important things:
First off, it must be mentioned that they didn't have Giannis Antetokounmpo for 2 ½ out of the 5 games in this series.
Secondly, Jimmy Butler went absolutely supernova in this series, putting up numbers of 37.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 4.8 apg on 59.7 % from the field…sick. When a guy like Butler is going off like this, there’s simply little you can do to stop him.
But this article isn't about Butler and his Heat’s improbably great showing (there's still plenty of time to talk about them in the second round). This is about the Bucks’ epic collapse.
And while their stunning loss to the 8 seed as a 1 seed themselves came as a huge surprise to the basketball world (just the fourth time that’s happened this century), it also laid out some deep seeded issues that the franchise must address.
What was maybe most surprising is the fact that in games 4 and 5, they held a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter, only to throw it away. And in both cases, they actually looked scared down the stretch of each game, which is something you simply don’t expect from a team that’s won a championship.
It highlighted the fact that Giannis, as great as he is, isn’t exactly a “close it out in the half-court” kind of guy at the end of games. Furthermore, for all the praise Jrue Holiday gets, he isn’t’ a true point guard on the offensive end, and it became increasingly clear that their lack of another calming ball-handling presence was killing them down the stretch when Miami was turning up the pressure.
Another major roster flaw that showed was the Bucks wing depth. It’s something that can be hidden during the regular season, especially with a guy like Giannis. But in the playoffs, when you’re going up against a team with a player like Butler, all of the sudden you don’t feel so great about the platoon of Kris Middleton (who’s lost a major step), Grayson Allen, Wes Matthews, Joe Ingles and the rest.
None of whom had a prayer at guarding Butler, by the way, forcing the Bucks to deploy Holiday on him, and even that didn’t work.
Which brings us to our next major Bucks red flag: the head coach. Mike Budenholzer was horrible in this series. Plain and simple. His lack of creativity, and malleability was exposed by his counterpart Erik Spoelstra.
You’d think after dropping 56 in game four, he’d finally give in and just freaking double team Butler in game five. Nope, that’s not the Bud way.
Then of course, the fact that they had a timeout remaining at the end of regulation in game five and forgot to call it to give themselves a chance to set up a play? Inexcusable…there’s no other way to put it.
It looks like he’s coached his last game in Milwaukee.
From a broad perspective, it was a comedy of errors that led to this debacle, and there's plenty of blame to be spread around to the entire organization. As mentioned off the top, Butler went prime MJ in this series, that has to be taken into account, as well as Giannis’ early series injury.
But still, there’s no excuse. This was the best team in the league all season long, and the betting favourite to win the title. To lose to a .500 team that barely made the playoffs and by all accounts were washed up?
It just can’t happen, and it may signify some major changes.
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By: Eddie Huband

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