Despite dominating the regular season competition in each of the past two years, the Milwaukee Bucks have fizzled out in consecutive trips to the playoffs.
After last year’s debacle, the Bucks underwent a massive roster retooling, which led the team to a slow start to the 2020-21 NBA season. This revamped Milwaukee team has flown under the radar for most of the season as they currently sit at third place in the Eastern Conference with a 43-24 overall record with five games left to play.
Although the Bucks have not seen as much success during the regular season as they are accustomed to, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokouunmpo has fully embraced an underdog mindset.
Sitting down with the team’s play-by-play announcer Jim Paschke, Antetokounmpo discussed how he has adjusted to playing with this new group and how he views the team as they brace for another trip to the playoffs. You can watch part two of the interview on the team’s YouTube channel here:
“I believe this year is a year that we come in as underdogs. I feel like people have put us away and I love that feeling. That’s how I was my whole life. I thought the two previous years we had unbelievable teams, unbelievable talent, but we always had so much expectation on us. Everybody was talking about Milwaukee. We put Milwaukee on the map and everyone expected so much from us and at the same time, I think that puts a lot of pressure to the team…
I’m not going to put pressure on my team. I’m not going to put pressure on myself, we’re just going to keep playing basketball, keep enjoying one another, keep having fun. But in the back of our head, the goal is championship for sure.”
Does Giannis Antetokounmpo have a point about the Milwaukee Bucks being underdogs heading into the postseason?
Although they are certainly still mentioned in the conversation when it comes to contenders, the Bucks have gotten written off by many. After two consecutive defeats, the narrative surrounding this team revolves around the notion that they cannot translate that same regular season success to where it matters the most.
That idea will plague the team until they finally overcome these issues and this could very well be their most well-equipped roster to do so. Along with their three-headed monster of Antetokounnmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, the Bucks have the most well-rounded supporting cast compared to any of the previous seasons. The offseason additions of Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, along with the mid-season trade for P.J. Tucker, have stacked this bench with players that embrace their individual roles.
Furthermore, head coach Mike Budenholzer has shown a willingness to expand on his coaching philosophies this season, something that has played into their demise previously. Perhaps that comes with reports that his future with the Bucks could be in jeopardy depending on how these playoffs conclude, but it is welcoming to see Budenholzer make the proper adjustments when necessary.
With a rejuvenated roster and improved coaching, the Bucks are in a fantastic position heading into the postseason, particularly as they enjoy a five-game win streak. Time will tell how they can finish the season throughout these next five games, but it appears certain that they will indeed enter the playoffs as underdogs.
As strange as it might sound, it simultaneously seems safe to say that this is the most talented roster the team has had in the Budenholzer era. Nevertheless, this team will be overlooked heading into the postseason and it will be up to them to shock the world.