Milwaukee Bucks: Title pursuit for 2019-20 season will be anything but traditional

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 30: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 30: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

As the NBA inches closer to what was once an improbable return to action, the Milwaukee Bucks’ pursuit of a championship will be anything but traditional.

March 11, 2020 is when the Milwaukee Bucks‘ chase for an NBA championship, as we knew it, was effectively over.

It was on that fateful night when the NBA stood at the center of the coronavirus pandemic in the United States and North America as a whole. Suddenly, Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert’s diagnosis  immediately became the catalyst for the current realities we all are dealing with all over the world.

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Now, more than two-and-a-half months later, the NBA is in the process of resuming a 2019-20 season that once looked to be lost for all involved.

Of course, money is the biggest determining factor above all and drives the push of the NBA, its players and broadcast providers to reclaim some revenue lost with the season suspension, and satisfy fans that are starved for basketball and some normalcy overall.

But when you weigh up the details throughout the various reports regarding the many options the NBA is weighing to restart the season and eventually crown a champion, nothing about it will be normal compared to what we have been used to historically.

Whether it’s reseeding the playoffs from 1-to-16 or instituting a World Cup-like format that includes group stages to pick up play again as The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor reported Tuesday morning, anything is on the table in regard to the NBA looking to salvage the season in the coming weeks and months.

That still includes trying to finish out what is left of the regular season and hitting that 70-game mark that will satisfy the contracts the NBA has with regional sports networks in local markets as ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported not long into the season suspension. All the while all NBA teams and players are housed and quarantined within Walt Disney World in Orlando.

For a team like the Bucks that has spent the majority of the season mowing through their opponents to stand atop of the league for the second straight year with a 53-12 record, all of the usual built-in advantages that come with being the top seed in the East, such as holding home court, will be non-existent.

The same obviously goes for the rhythm the Bucks were in before the season stoppage, though Bucks players have been slowly and surely getting back into game shape since their practice facility reopened earlier this month. Milwaukee won’t be the only team to face that problem, but that point still stands.

It’s true that the Bucks stand as one of the teams that have the most to lose as things are currently constructed and in the case that the NBA ends up going with an alternative route with how they’ll look to finish out the season. But as they look to move forward in what was once impossible circumstances, how the Bucks got to this point will be largely irrelevant as the league and commissioner Adam Silver look to pinpoint a plan for the rest of the year.

Instead, the Bucks will have to be concerned with a whole new set of variables, such as following proper protocols to maintain the health of their players and trying to get back into the peak game playing shape, that will either carry them to their ultimate goal or threaten to unravel it altogether.

The point of where players’ individual fitness levels will be throughout this process and run up to the rebooting of the season is especially relevant moving forward. How quickly everything came to a halt at the time of the season shutting down and all of the subsequent down time that came as a result doesn’t even make it easy to go from what’s essentially been like another offseason into a 2-3 week training camp like the NBA is hoping for.

And God forbid if a Bucks player does indeed end up testing positive for the coronavirus with all the contact that comes in practice, games and in the severe case that a player or official doesn’t follow regulations with the “campus” environment that is crucial to restarting play again.

This Friday should offer all fans some clarity on which direction the NBA decides to go on, with the Board of Governors meeting, that Bucks owner Marc Lasry noted last week when discussing the timeline he envisioned with the league returning to action, set to take place. Through all of this one-of-a-kind hiatus, Lasry has been the conduit for news for a Bucks fanbase that doesn’t want to see a dream season go completely to waste.

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To that end, though, there’s a chance that Bucks fans may have to brace for the possibility that how the league restarts may not provide the ideal path for the Bucks to reach what looks like a championship under these unusual circumstances. But again, literally none of this is ideal in the first place.