For the first time since 2001-2002 (Bucks started 9-1 to start the season) the Bucks sit atop of the East after starting the year 6-0. For the younger generation of Bucks fans, like myself, this is the most success we have ever seen out of a Bucks team… which is pretty sad (I was 4 during the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals). The prime of my Bucks fandom came in the “magical” 2010 season that saw John Salmons, Anderew Bogut, Brandon Jennings, and Michael Redd lead the Bucks to a 46 win series before losing in 7 games to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round. Or maybe it was watching Michael Redd put up 57 points then going out back to my basketball hoop and mimicking his jump shot (I blame all my elementary shooting woes on him). From Yi Jianlian to Joe Alexander to Jason Kidd, there has been a lot of dark points for any Bucks fan under 25.
But finally, after a lifetime of mediocrity there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel. While John Hammonds tenure as Bucks GM was far from perfect, he did give us Giannis Antetokounmpo. Giannis has been ready to lead the Bucks for two years now, and it finally looks like the team and coaching around him is ready as well. The Bucks are now 6-0 under new coach Mike Budenholzer and the energy in Milwaukee is at an all time high. The excitement has culminated for an epic matchup against the undefeated Toronto Raptors to take sole ownership of the number 1 spot in the Eastern Conference. It seems crazy but the Bucks 7th game of the year may be the most hyped regular season matchup in at least a decade. The new-look Kawhi-lead Raptors are also riding a wave of excitement as it looks like their gamble in the Kawhi trade is going to pay off.
In a battle of the last two undefeated teams in the NBA, what could possibly spoil the NBA’s best game of the year to date?
Toronto is resting Kawhi Leonard for tonight's game against the Milwaukee Bucks.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 29, 2018
Giannis Antetokounmpo has been placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol and will not play in tonight’s game against Toronto. pic.twitter.com/HNyrcu2BLs
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) October 29, 2018
Of course after 300 words of pure hype, the Bucks and Shams break my heart with the ultimate Woe Bomb (see what I did there?). Thankfully the basketball gods kept it a fair matchup and ruled both star players out, but it is still disappointing nonetheless. The starless bout will still be a fascinating matchup as we’ll get to see who has the best supporting cast and which number 2 option is best equipped to handle a heavier scoring and playmaking responsibility. Kyle Lowry always performs well in the regular season and Toronto has some serious depth to its roster. Both teams seem to be evenly matched with and without its star players so the excitement is still real. All in all, removing Giannis and Kawhi doesn’t change much; these are two conference contenders duking it out for the top spot in the East.