Mar 15, 2013; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Ekpe Udoh (13) and Miami Heat center Chris Bosh (1) battle for a rebound at the Bradley Center. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Unless they pull off a small miracle and leapfrog the Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks will be playing the Miami Heat in a first-round playoff series. Here are three reasons that they just may pull it off.**
1) The Bucks are 4-3 in their last seven games against the Heat.
The first step to beating your opponent is visualizing the victory. The Bucks can do that — perhaps with perfect mathematical symmetry — as they have won four of the most recent seven from Miami.
2) Miami’s defense hasn’t been very good this season.
After posting a stingy 100.2 points per 100 possessions defensive rating last season (per Basketball Reference), the Heat have given up 104.0 points per 100 possessions this season.
(Ignore for a moment the fact that the Heat’s best/most frequently used lineup is +12.0 points per 100 possessions this season, okay?)
The key to a championship is defense, no?
With Chris Bosh at center and the use of a number of smaller lineups, the Heat may be slightly softer in the middle than they used to be. Perhaps Milwaukee can take advantage with their innumerable lanky bigs. Speaking of which…
3) John Henson has played out of his gourd against the Heat this season
Henson has 23 rebounds in 37 minutes against the Heat. If we pro-rate that production to a full game sample of say, 37 minutes, that would be 23 rebounds per game!
** The task ahead for the Bucks will be to win four out of seven games from the Miami Heat, the defending champions the past season and a team with a 60-16 record this season. Should the two teams play, it’s hard to foresee the Bucks winning more games than they lose against the best team in the league when they can’t, on average, do the same against the full spectrum of teams of the NBA.
The Bucks won’t win this series. LeBron James plays for the Heat. He’s not a bad basketball player. Injuries and inactivity plague Luc Mbah a Moute, a player who plays like a “LeBron mitigator” under normal circumstances. Miami holds homecourt, if not home-ref, advantage for the series, and they arguably possess the top three players from either team. Et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.
“The only way to win the playoffs is to be in the playoffs.”
Folks who believe that line of thought might call it a maxim. Folks who don’t might term it a cliche. If the first round of the playoffs was a food fight, the Miami Heat would have a stack of watermelons piled up for ammo and the Bucks would have a few bunches of grapes. Of course that’s a recipe for disaster, but should fans enjoy it anyway?
The goal of any team is to win, and this team is no exception to that rule. But the Bucks faced one big problem coming into the season: short-term personnel. With the head coach, general manager, and a big chunk of the roster sitting like lame ducks on the last years of their respective deals, it becomes much easier to value short-term victories over longer ones.
If there are ‘haters’ of the Bucks’ success, their critiques probably don’t stem from an overall sense of wanting the Bucks to lose, but instead from a hope that their favorite team doesn’t value the long shot of winning in 2013 over the more realistic goal of winning a few years from now.
The decisions that got the Bucks to this point have already been made. Trades can’t be overturned, bad contracts can’t be rewritten. Bucks fans have been given a present, but no matter how pretty the wrapping is, it was given a notoriously bad gift picker. (Hi, Aunt Esther!)
Open the gift, smile, and try to enjoy it.