BTBP Roundtable: How Can The Bucks Beat The Raptors?

Apr 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks fans hold up a sign during the game against the Chicago Bulls in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Chicago won 120-66. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 30, 2015; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Bucks fans hold up a sign during the game against the Chicago Bulls in game six of the first round of the NBA Playoffs at BMO Harris Bradley Center. Chicago won 120-66. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /

What was the biggest factor in the Bucks’ 20-10 run into the playoffs?

Schlepp: Obviously the return of Khris Middleton was a major factor in the Bucks turnaround. Giving Giannis an elite shooter who can create his own shot and take a primary offensive role while Giannis sits was huge for the team. Malcolm Brogdon taking a stranglehold on the starting point guard spot also propelled the team to parts unknown. Brogdon proved this season that he is both a quality defender in the league and a capable creator for his teammates. Those two slotting into the starting lineup definitely softened the blow for a team that lost a premier talent in Jabari Parker. Plus, any team that has Giannis has a chance to go on a run.

Harkins: The simple answer to me is Khris Middleton. Not only does he provide another deep threat who can get his own shot and create for others, but he is a great team player on both ends of the floor. On the offensive end, he is willing to take (and make) tough shots. In late-game or late-shot clock situations, he can be a go-to-guy. On the defensive side of the ball, he is very solid as an individual defender, but does so much more. Middleton is a great defensive leader that encourages communication and team defense. I think that during the run, the team rallied around having Khris Middleton back and everybody stepped up their game because of it.

Treske: Not to be unoriginal here, but it has to be Khris Middleton for me.

Considering the gravity of his injury, I kept my expectations regarding Middleton low and given the state of the team upon his return, I became increasingly nervous for the savior-like addition I saw many fans and pundits were billing him as when the Bucks were at their lowest in the season. But as we saw after the All-Star break, that more or less happened as Middleton quickly rounded into gear not long into his return to the court, much to my surprise.

In a weird way, his struggles over the last few weeks have only confirmed to me just how vital he quickly became to the Bucks during their turnaround and from that perspective, it’s understandable why they came back down to Earth following a big month of March.

Spanbauer: The return of Khris Middleton provided a much needed spark for Milwaukee. Perhaps ironically, that spark came in the form of slowing down a frantic offense. Middleton’s return saw the Bucks slow their pace significantly, allowing Middleton to isolate and do what he does best on offense. Middleton’s recent struggles show just how vital Middleton is for this Bucks team that sometimes lacks an offensive punch – especially with Jabari Parker sidelined due to injury.

Malcolm Brogdon’s consistent and calming impact on the starting lineup and in clutch situations should not be overlooked, either. The savvy rookie continues to impress, and his on-court relationship with Greg Monroe has been nothing short of amazing. All credit to Monroe, aside, Brogdon seemed to get more out of the Bucks’ big man than anyone has seen before. Take note of Monroe’s performance down the stretch while Brogdon dealt with a back injury; I don’t necessarily think that’s a coincidence.

CoffmanStop me if you’ve heard this before, but I think Khris Middleton was the biggest factor behind the Bucks’ resurgence into the playoffs this year. His ability to create shots and lead the team was missing for the first half of the season, and getting him back restored order to Milwaukee’s rotation. Some of the Bucks’ victories were due to chance, what with their unsustainable record in close games over the 20-10 run, but the veteran players stepping up had a lot to do with that as well.

Wallace: I mean what is it with all of these Khris Middleton answers? Is that guy even good? Can we all be honest and just say that Steve Novak was the problem? Okay, totally kidding. I’m sure Steve was great, and the answer is totally Khris Middleton. He gives Giannis more room to operate, and more importantly he just seems to get everyone in the right spots on defense. I feel like the Bucks are a more calm and composed team when he is on the floor. If I had to give a second reason it would be the improvement of Malcolm Brogdon.

McGee: I don’t think it was just Middleton, although he obviously played a major role in the shift that the team underwent. I’d attribute it to the team starting to believe again. The story goes that Jason Kidd gave them their hardest workout of the season just before the run kick started. Whatever happened, they quickly regained a confidence and a swagger that they hadn’t really any right to maintain at that point, they played in a more mature and measured style, and very importantly Kidd stayed with consistent lineups and rotations as injuries meant he had no other option. A young team needs the chance to build trust and momentum, and in many ways the group as a whole was forced into that spot.

Osterndorf: The team figured out how to win close games, and Giannis was helped out by Khris. When Khris was on, the Bucks won their games. The Bucks were 14-2 when Khris shot over 45 percent this season. When he shot under 45 percent, they were 5-8. It’s a small sample size due to his injury taking away much of the season, but Khris is a real impact on the offensive end, and does a great job creating for himself and teammates. He’s also a plus defender, which the player he effectively replaced, Jabari, wasn’t. While it might not be entirely accurate, I think there’s something to be said about Giannis being the star of the team and Khris being the heart of it.