Bucks

Bucks on Verge of Vindication

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A popular slur in sports is “fair-weathered fan.”

In Wisconsin, usually, it’s the opposite with the Green Bay Packers’ December successes. But more spectators keep discovering the beauty of a summer NBA playoff game. Wednesday night, a 98% capacity crowd observed the fairest night in 21st century Bucks history. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are convincing the final skeptics as a surging basketball community raises voices into a victory shriek.

Cream City Ignited

In a recent interview, Jon McGlocklin lamented how underwhelming Milwaukee’s reception was after the Deer won the 1971 title. While fan enthusiasm rocketed, unfortunately, so did opponent quality. Phoenix shined to a quick start, with their fans quick-counting Giannis at the free-throw line. Bucks fans then shouted, “MVP! MVP!” But Giannis missed the next toss anyway. Would the Deer stumble so close to the elysian victory field?

Bobby Portis tried to ignite the city off the bench. The fan-favorite provided 20 scintillating minutes, and while he only scored three points, his energy kept his teammates from discouraging.

At one point, Bobby rose his hands to the sky, encouraging Bucks fans to make a LOT of noise to get a Sun to miss a free throw. But the Arizonian made it anyways! Despite being deadlocked 52-52 at halftime, but the Suns played several degrees better. After Cameron Johnson hit a three to start the fourth quarter, Milwaukee trailed 76-85.

But like the dog who catches the school bus, some teams let up when they think the game is over.

The Suns maintained roughly the same energy, but the Bucks, feeding off Fiserv enthusiasm, burned their reserve calories. For once not confusing the NBA Finals with a B-movie casting call, Jae Crowder made a costly, lazy mistake.

While Pat Connaughton‘s airball against the Hawks outraged some fans, the reserve led the team with a +21 +/- and hit perhaps the most significant Bucks three in 50 years.

Closeout

Was Giannis’s block of Deandre Ayton the best in NBA history?

True, the fine folks at Cavs Lead may disagree. However, the beauty of both plays is how seamlessly they fit in with the rest of the game. In soccer, winning penalty kicks have minutes of anticipation. For a critical block, though, a defender has but a moment. Giannis took advantage, temporarily saving the game.

Unfortunately, the Bucks couldn’t score on the next possession. Then, the most crucial Bucks moment in 50 years arrived on the next play. Chris Paul lost the ball, and Middleton finished off the fast break.

While the Bucks Twitter team usually does a great job, the above Tweet doesn’t justly recognize the impact of Khris’s shot. It was the fifth and sixth straight points in a 40-point dominance, and the Bucks mobbed Ka$h while Phoenix futilely used a timeout. The Suns could only score two more useless buckets.

After Paul‘s final layup, Giannis casually strolled to the ball and flipped it to an official. He tossed it back, and the Freak found Pat cutting free from Crowder. As Connaughton dribbled out the clock, the Cream City’s exhales became a shout of ecstasy.

We Got Two More!

As Bucks fans enjoyed the fireworks from a Forum window, one fan exalted after the last BOOM, “we got two more!” But the first will be a challenge.

The Suns, according to William Hill Sportsbook, opened as four-point favorites, with 75% of bettors picking Phoenix to win straight-up. And the gamblers have reasons for Bucks concern. First, Giannis had to do too much in game two as the Bucks rotated lazily on three-point defense. Also, he needs more offensive support; the Bucks’ bench performs much better at home.

Likewise, the Suns play more confidently in Arizona. Too-long waiting fans will pack Phoenix Suns Arena, and they’re sure to taunt our Freak while he attempts to take advantage of (finally!) favorable officiating.

Fifty years ago, our city disappointed the Bucks by not appreciating the 66-win champions. We don’t know if the Deer can steal a vital game five. But it doesn’t take an astronomer to know Milwaukee will eclipse Phoenix in heart on Tuesday. And this time, when our idols return for a final time this postseason, Milwaukee will get the celebration right.

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

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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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