By: Colin Chiles, who you can follow on Twitter here: @ColinC27
Estimated read time: 6 minutes
Milwaukee went up 2-1 over Toronto last night in their first round matchup. The first game was close for about 40 minutes (the Bucks pulled away at the end). The second game came down to a clutch shot from Kyle Lowry (finally!) to seal the game for Toronto. And then there was last night.
Last night the Raptors had a bad game. But it wasn’t just that they were missing open shots. The Bucks length is a PROBLEM for the Raptors as it will be for the rest of the league if they are going to continue play like this. The Bucks held the Raptors to 46 through three quarters. If you don’t watch the NBA that often…its hard to understate how insane that is. The Raptors the 3 seed in the east, they scored 107 points per game in the regular season, good for 10th in the NBA. And the Bucks held them to a 61 point pace through three quarters. The only reason the Raptors ended up with 77 was because the Bucks played their backups for most of the 4th quarter, ultimately allowing 31 points.
Every once in awhile in a playoff series, you can get a glimpse of what the talent gap between two teams are. I’m reminded of the 29 point drudging an adolescent OKC team gave the Lakers in round 2 of the 2012 playoffs. I’m not comparing the Raptors to the Lakers in this scenario, I’m comparing the Bucks to the Thunder.
In a seven game series, you’re going to get a random batch of games. I’m not breaking news here but sports are extremely variable. Any one guy can have good or bad game that can potentially swing a single game. But sometimes you get games like last night, where it’s so obvious where the advantages in the series lie.
The Raptors are a damn good team. They are really solid all the way through and led by two near super stars in Lowry and Derozan. I can’t really explain their inability to perform in the playoffs other than to say that Paul Pierce put a curse on them in 2015 and he refuses to lift it. The Raptors are talented and deep. But there is a significant disparity in talent between the Raptors and the Bucks, favoring the Bucks by a wide margin, and that is almost entirely due to Giannis.
I tried to warn you at the beginning of the season, I wrote my 5 things I’m interested in to start the season article and listed Giannis as #1. By the way… if I may brag for a second, I kinda nailed 4 of the 5 main storylines of the year in that piece. I had the following:
2. The white hot fury of Russell Westbrook
3. Harden in D’Antoni’s offense (mentioned them as a potential 3 seed)
4. JoJo Embiid (who was a HUGE story while he was healthy)
5. Timberwolves with Thibideau as coach (by the way I said “I think playoffs are a long shot for this bunch”)
Not bad eh?
Anyway, back to your regularly scheduled Giannis.
Before I continue to gush about him and the Bucks, I want to make a few things clear. First off, I don’t consider myself in the minority on my Bucks opinion. You probably can’t swing a dead virtual cat without hitting an article giving high praise to the Bucks future today. (By the way even though I kind of love that “swing a dead cat” expression, where in the fuck did that come from? What demented individual is out there swinging dead cats?)
Second, don’t listen to people telling you the Bucks are wildly inconsistent and that since they only went 42-40 that means they can’t keep this up. Since the All-Star break, the Bucks are 17-10. That’s good for 5th most wins in the entire NBA during that span. 27 games is not a small sample size and this Bucks team is a really good team.
P.S. the Heat were 16-9 RIP WAITERS
P.P.S. the Trailblazers were 18-8 RIP NURK
P.P.P.S. the Raptors were 18-7 post all-star RIP CANADA
Third, the one thing that could happen to the Bucks is they could get tight. They are a young team and though they’ve seemed generally unaware/uncaring of any pressure that might be on them, it’s hard to know how they’ll react once the “Are the Bucks going to beat Cleveland?” storyline starts making the rounds and reaches the locker room and they’re only up one game in a series versus a really good team.
But lets get to what I want to talk about. Giannis is the next king of the NBA. I know NBA twitter has anointed a number of predecessors to the throne once LeBron decides he’s done with it (Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony towns and now Giannis) but this one is for real.
This is where I want to get to with this article. I am imploring you to watch Giannis Antetokounmpo play basketball. He’s gotten a lot of hype, but the Bucks don’t get a lot of national TV time. Even in the playoffs, two of the three games in this series have been on NBA TV. But there will be a time in the future, where Bucks games are on national TV as often as Cavs games are now.
I want you to look at this picture. And really just take it in.
Yes, that’s Giannis mid dunk with a foot ON THE GROUND. This in a way encapsulates the “WTF” feeling I get when I watch him play. He moves so smoothly for a seven foot tall 225 pound man and the steps he takes in transition….I’m convinced the guy could go rim to rim without dribbling and not travel. I honestly think he surprises defenders with how long he is. It says something about him that other NBA players are caught off guard when he’s able to take two gigantic steps and already be dunking the ball.
His main flaw is that he can’t shoot from distance, but what I want you to think about is that teams play well off of him, giving him the three ball, and it hardly effects his offense. He’s still extremely effective with teams packing the paint on him. If he ever learns to shoot? Wrap it up, game over, cancel the NBA and just hand them every championship from 2019-2029.
And he absolutely could learn to shoot because he’s only 22. He may be wrecking the Raptors season (again, the Raptors are a really really good team!) and he’s realistically still 4-6 years away from his prime. What the fuck is he going to be like at 28????
Now I don’t want to drag on about this, I had every intention of keeping this a shorter article than usual so I’m going to keep it that way but I just want to focus on the Bucks as a team for a second.
The future starting line up of this team may look like this:
Malcolm Brogdon – 6’5” 215 lbs (currently 24)
Khris Middleton – 6’8” 235 lbs (currently 25)
Jabari parker – 6’8” 250 lbs (currently 22)
Giannis Antetokounmpo – 6’11” 225 lbs (currently 22)
Thon Maker – 7’1” 215 lbs (currently 38…kidding…he’s listed at 21 but there’s some significant skepticism with that number)
You want to talk about positionless basketball? There it is my friend. It’s the future, and it’s staring us in the face. And it plays Saturday at 2:00pm central on TNT. Be there.