The Bucks have had an up and down season that has kept their fans on the edge of their seats. They have some highs that Bucks fans of years past have waited years to experience highlighted by the Giannis All-Star experience. That for Bucks fans was when we knew we had arrived, we had waited 13 years for an All-Star and the one to break that streak did it in style with an MVP-like performance. They have also had very low lows including two devastating injuries to key core members.
They actually got out to a nice start to the season, reaching 20-18 while being top 10 in defense and offense according to several metrics. Giannis was playing like an MVP candidate and Jabari looked to be having a break out season. There was not widespread optimism amongst Bucks fans though, despite Giannis’s breakout play people were worried about all the money invested in mediocre players (read as: Plumlee, Teletovic, and Dellavedova). Michael Beasley was playing as many minutes as the first two and playing really well. This great value bin find seemed to cause Bucks fan more stress than happiness. Of course any season summary would be incomplete without mentioning the Kidd complaining, Kidd’s many doubters were still vocal, but there was less widespread criticism.
Then the wheels fell off the wagon the Bucks lost 12 of their next 14 with a home loss to the Lakers on February 10th capping it off. The Bucks were a mess, they got off to slow start after slow start. Giannis was often the only shining moment, and even that was limited at times. During this stretch their defensive rating cratered, there was seemingly a lack of effort night after night. At this time #FireKidd was in full swing, after every loss we would hear the same excuse trotted out: youth. Just look in Alex Lasry’s mentions from the times to see the vitriol and anger Bucks fans had. Just when things could not get any worse Jabari Parker tears his ACL on February 8th the same night Khris Middleton returned and hope was supposed to be bright. The Bucks fell to 22-30 and things looked grim for their playoff hopes.
Then just when the tanking enthusiasts started to rally, the Bucks started winning again. At first each win was greeted by a bit of regret that they were just worsening their eventual lottery pick. Then the playoffs became a possibility, which rolled into a likelihood, which has further become an expectation. The Bucks sent out the email Friday about playoff tickets being on sale, playoffs are now a reality for Bucks fans with fivethirtyeight having them at 98% chance of making it. They have been able to claw their way back in with great play from Giannis, Khris, and perhaps most surprisingly Tony Snell. Snell is never going to blow fans away, but he has been consistent and plays hard on both ends. He has career highs in virtually every category, but perhaps most importantly he fits perfectly with Giannis. Snell has switch-ability on defense and is willing to just sit in the corner and knock down 3s, he has played himself into a hefty paycheck this summer. The Bucks have reaped the benefits of his improved play, as they went 16-6 to get to where they are today the five seed. Will they stay there? Probably not, but there are only 8 games left to play so anything is possible.
The Bucks have had an up and down season, which has left their fan base asking which of these Bucks teams is representative of the actual skill level. That question will likely be answered sometime after April 15th when the playoffs begin. Is this the team that lost to the 76ers at home twice and will they wither up and get swept in four games? Is this a team that beat the Cavs, Spurs, and Clippers in tightly contested games this year that could force a game 7 against anyone or even *gasps excessively loud* advance? Only time will tell, all I know is the Bucks have had one winning season since 2003, and haven’t made it out of the first round since 2001, so I am enjoying the success as long as it lasts.