Bucks Make Haters See Deer in Headlights


The Milwaukee Bucks had to sit back and listen to all the harsh words for nearly three years.

After two postseason failures, there was no shortage in smack-talking the Bucks for their playoff shortcomings. Milwaukee saw a pair of postseason runs as the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference end early. Questions abounded about could the small market Bucks win a title?

But this 2020-21 Bucks team was just built different.

With shrewd moves by Bucks GM Jon Horst, the Bucks vanquished their postseason demons. The doubters silenced with a postseason run for the ages, culminating in an NBA Championship. Milwaukee overcame multiple 0-2 deficits, finishing off with a thrilling Bucks in 6.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at some receipts. The Bucks made many people look silly with their takes with their championship run. Here are my top-five takes the Deer put to rest:

“You can’t win a title with Giannis as your top superstar”

Well, not sure there is much to say about this one.

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered monster performances for the Milwaukee Bucks all postseason long. As Jalen Rose consistently says: “You can pencil Giannis in for 30 and 12.”

That alone says a lot about the Greek Freak. And the numbers bare that out. Giannis averaged 30.2 points, 12.8 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in the playoffs. He doubled down on his belief to bring a championship to Milwaukee by signing the supermax in the offseason. His belief has been rewarded, and he has shut up a lot of people in the process.


Khris Middleton can’t be the second-best player on a champion”

The hate for Khris Middleton was always over-the-top, but Middleton put any talk of his abilities or the Bucks abilities to win with him as a Robin to rest.

Khash delivered time and time again in the clutch this postseason. Every time the Bucks needed a big shot, Middleton answered the bell. He hit the game-winning jumper against the Heat in the playoff opener, has four 35-plus point performances this postseason and has matched LeBron James with the most game-tying or go-ahead buckets (15) in the fourth quarter or overtime in a single postseason run in the last 25 years.

Sorry, haters. Middleton helped deliver a title to Cream City.


“The Bucks gave up too much for Jrue Holiday

Horst paid a steep price bringing Holiday to Milwaukee, but man did it prove to be worth it. Holiday showed his value not only with his intangible Game 5 performance in the Finals, but in numerous other pivotal moments in the playoffs. Clutch jumpers in Game 7 vs. Brooklyn — stepping up after Giannis missed the final two games in the Eastern Conference Finals — and of course the strip on Devin Booker leading to the “Valley Oop” in Game 5 vs. Phoenix.

Seeing Eric Bledsoe shrink and basically disappear in playoffs past, this postseason run showed exactly why Holiday was a priority in the offseason. Getting him to Milwaukee is a big reason the Bucks are at long-last, once again champions.


“Mike Budenholzer can’t lead a team to the promised land”

For a title run that is sweet and will be savored by many, no one is likely soaking this in more than Coach Bud. After leading the Atlanta Hawks to a top-seed and 60-win season in 2014, he ran into LeBron. Then, back-to-back disappointing playoff trips as the top seed in the East at the helm with the Bucks.

So finally climbing over the hump and reaching the Finals in itself had to be sweet. Look, Bud has some issues and Game 1s still are a problem. But now, Budenholzer can savor this long journey conquering his playoff shortcomings with a championship.

Giannis is a regular season player

The wall. He can’t hit jumpers in a half-court, grind-it-out game.

Well, the two-time regular season MVP unequivocally dominated in the 2021 playoffs, even stepping it up a notch when it mattered most. The Greek Freak averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game on over 61 percent shooting in the NBA Finals. Giannis had back-to-back games (Games 2 & 3) of 40 (42 points, 12 rebounds in G2, 41 points, 13 rebounds in G3). Giannis capped it off on the Bucks’ championship with a 50-point, 14-rebound, five-block performance that will go down as one of the best Finals performances in NBA history ever.

It came in an NBA-title clinching game.


So, just a regular-season player? Well, that regular-season player has brought Milwaukee a championship. For many in the state of Wisconsin, they never thought they’d see the day. Perhaps the national perception was even more pessimistic, but Giannis’ belief in the Bucks franchise and himself has come to fruition.

The doubters? Well, nothing can be said now.

Follow us on Twitter @BucksLead for the latest Bucks news and insight. 

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About Mitchell Skurzewski

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