Milwaukee Bucks: Imagining a documentary on the early 1970s Bucks

CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 5, 1974: (Photo by Ron Kuntz Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH - FEBRUARY 5, 1974: (Photo by Ron Kuntz Collection/Diamond Images/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks' Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
NEW YORK, NY – NOVEMBER 17, 1973: (Photo by Ross Lewis/Getty Images) /

The 1973-74 season

To say the Bucks entered the 1973-74 season with a bang would be an understatement.

Through the first month of the regular season, the Bucks stood with a 15-1 record and a 13-game winning streak by November 13, 1973. A three-game losing streak quickly followed, which the Bucks responded to with a 10-game winning streak from November 22 to December 11, 1973.

Milwaukee maintained their leading pace in what was an incredibly competitive Midwest Division, that featured three 50-win teams between the Bucks, the Chicago Bulls and the Detroit Pistons. Having to face the likes of the Bulls and Pistons six times a season surely made the Bucks more battle tested when the time came.

Robertson’s ongoing deterioration, though, gradually came into focus throughout the season. For his final year, Robertson tallied career-lows in points per game (12.7), field goal percentage (43.8 percent), assists per game (6.4) and minutes per game (35.4).

But Robertson’s decline opened up the door for Allen to play a significant role within the Bucks’ system.

light. Related Story. Oscar Robertson’s journey to cement his legacy

Allen gave the Bucks the youthful, athletic ball handler they needed to go up against aggressive opposing defenses to preserve The Big O, and his interplay with Abdul-Jabbar, whom he had played with since their shared time at UCLA, proved to be a dynamite connection. It all led to a then-career year for the former Bruin as he averaged 17.6 points on 49.5 percent shooting from the field, 5.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.9 steals through his 72 appearances.

As Dandridge described to On Milwaukee back in June of 2014, Allen’s emergence as the Bucks’ third-leading scorer dimensionalized the Bucks’ offense to keep opposing defenses honest in the way they would look to defend Abdul-Jabbar at that time:

"“The big thing, more so than anything, he and Kareem had a relationship, a basketball relationship that oftentimes allowed Lucius to get easy baskets because they had been teammates for so long,” Bucks forward Bob Dandridge said. “It gave us different weapons so that Kareem could not be double teamed. That was the key. You couldn’t double team Kareem with Lucius in there.”"

One moment came to define the outcome of the Bucks’ season, though, as Allen went down with an MCL injury during a 93-89 loss to the Detroit Pistons on March 15, 1974, after he slipped on a warmup jacket that was left on the court when going up for a block attempt on the defensive end.

A mistake such as leaving a warmup jacket on the floor forced Allen to miss the rest of the season and left the Bucks without a significant contributor two weeks before the start of the 1974 NBA Playoffs.

For many Bucks players and coaches on that team, Allen’s injury was viewed as such as deflating moment for all involved as legendary Bucks announcer Eddie Doucette said in that same piece by On Milwaukee:

"“When something like that happens, obviously everybody is upset and disappointed, but the way it happened was really kind of a tragic thing,” Bucks play-by-play man Eddie Doucette said. “You take an important piece out and then try and fill in, that’s a huge loss. So, I think yeah, that let a little air out of the balloon.”"

Hall of Fame coach Hubie Brown, then a Bucks assistant coach under Costello, believed Allen’s presence would have made the difference in their second Finals trip in three seasons as he told ESPN in 2005:

"“We lost [guard] Lucius Allen to an injury before the playoffs,” Brown recalls. “With Lucius I think we would have won.”"

In spite of that, Milwaukee finished the season on a high note winning five of their final six games following Allen’s injury and finishing with a league-leading 59-23 record.

Now, the playoffs awaited and the Bucks were searching for redemption to return back to the promise land.