The buzz of the short offseason in the Eastern Conference was all about if the Milwaukee Bucks could make the jump to the next level.
After Miami shockingly ended their trip to the bubble in the conference semifinals, Mike Budenholzer’s team regrouped as they’ve done each of the past few years in similar playoff exits.
This time, they seemed poised to make more noise than ever, adding Jrue Holiday via trade and locking up back-to-back MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo to the largest contract in NBA history.
Milwaukee Drops Four Straight
Yet, the past week for Milwaukee has them trending in the same direction as their previous playoff woes. For the first time since the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals, the Bucks have lost four games in a row.
Giannis’ play certainly hasn’t been the issue. He’s averaged 33.5 points per game over Milwaukee’s slide, good for his team’s leading scorer in each game as the headlines have shown.
The Bucks in the last four
Game 1: Bucks lose a close road game despite Giannis’ 47 points
Game 2: Jazz still sizzling, take care of Milwaukee
Game 3: Giannis goes for triple-double, OKC still comes out with win
Game 4: Raptors beat Bucks without Lowry
Perhaps Holiday’s absence due to health and safety protocol has left a gaping hole on the Bucks; he’s missed Milwaukee’s five previous contests.
Antetokounmpo addressed his team’s recent troubles last night after their loss to Toronto at home. He stated that he’ll need to keep attacking double teams he faces aggressively, something he goes up against almost every night as one of the league’s premier players.
He and the Bucks remain optimistic, as they’ll expect Holiday back soon and for their fortunes to change.
“We’re not going home, we’re still here,” Antetokounmpo said.
Bucks Bouncing Back?
Nonetheless, the seeds of doubt are alive and well in the Cream City and across the country. The Bucks have dropped to the fourth-best odds for the NBA title among prominent sportsbooks.
Kevin Durant and the new-look Brooklyn Nets are all the hype for who will challenge Milwaukee’s recent grip on the East. Some experts now see them as Eastern conference favorites, a title Milwaukee has held for some time.
As the season moves close to its halfway point, a clearer picture of who will earn the right to face the best of the West in July will emerge. For the Bucks, they’ll have to change course if they’ll want to find themselves there.
The finale to their two-game series against the Raptors on Thursday will be Milwaukee’s first chance to right the ship.