Milwaukee Bucks: Continuity could help in truncated season format

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 04: (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - FEBRUARY 04: (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images) /

Any shortened or reworked playoff format would add a new variable to the NBA season, but the Milwaukee Bucks may have an advantage on that front.

As the prospect of the NBA season resuming, and the 2019-20 campaign being completed, remains something of an unknown, there’s every possibility that any solution that does arise will offer up something incredibly different.

That goes beyond the notion of games being played in Walt Disney World or a Las Vegas resort in some kind of bubble environment, as there may still be a need to cut short the regular season, or to even alter the format of the postseason.

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On one front, that would seem only to spell bad news for the Bucks.

As the league’s best and most consistent team over the course of the regular season, their chances of winning four games against any team in a seven-game series would be pretty good. If series were changed to a best-of-five, or even a best-of-three, the increased variance and room for luck to factor into proceedings certainly would seem to favor the underdogs more than it would Milwaukee’s juggernaut squad.

Similarly, if the regular season was cut short and the season was to pick up with the playoffs, either immediately or very soon after a resumption, the chances of a team such as the Bucks being unable to find their rhythm as quickly as an inferior opponent would increase exponentially.

Ultimately, the NBA may well need to get creative in order to crown a champion this season, but an attempt to retain integrity and avoid the possibility of a winner coming completely out of leftfield may well factor into their consideration of viable options.

Having said that, there’s a case to be made that an adjusted format may not be all bad for the Bucks.

As opposed to many of their rivals, the Bucks have the advantage of being battle tested in the postseason in something that largely resembles their current form. If the pressure cooker atmosphere of the playoffs was to be intensified further by any tweaks, Milwaukee’s continuity could be to their benefit.

This would be the third postseason playing together for Milwaukee’s key trio of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Eric Bledsoe, with Brook Lopez also having been a key component of the Bucks’ run to the Conference Finals under Mike Budenholzer last season.

That same luxury is not one that’s afforded to the Los Angeles Lakers, where for as experienced as LeBron James is in that context, his running mate Anthony Davis lacks any significant taste of postseason action by way of just two trips to the playoffs and only one series win.

For L.A.’s other team, the Clippers haven’t been able to play Kawhi Leonard and Paul George together quite as often as they’d have liked this season, and much like the Lakers they’ll also be facing up to their first playoff run together, regardless of what else happens.

In the East, the Raptors have notable continuity to their championship core but are of course lacking Leonard. Having undergone major changes last summer, this will also be the first postseason run together for key players with each of Boston, Philadelphia, and Miami.

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Perhaps the season could finish in a way that adds more room for random outcomes, but Milwaukee’s familiarity and understanding of how they fit together should ultimately protect them from an element of that too.