This is what the Milwaukee Bucks have prepared for all 2020-21 season long.
After the Bucks took home a 104-89 victory in Game 6 against the Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee is preparing for Game 7 in Brooklyn as they look to make it to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years. Considering what’s all at stake and rumblings of coaching changes potentially around the corner, legacies will certainly be on the line going into this do-or-die game for both the Bucks and Brooklyn.
This will be the 11th Game 7 the Bucks have played over the 53 years of existence and well, their previous Game 7 experiences haven’t been painted in glory. Milwaukee is 2-8 when playing in a Game 7 over the course of a playoff series.
In a bit of symmetry, it’s been a little more than 20 years since the Bucks last won a Game 7, which they did over the Charlotte Hornets to reach the 2001 Eastern Conference Finals. That series was also notable for the fact that the Bucks had to win Game 6 and 7 in both Charlotte and on their home floor after having dropped Game 5, though in a far less destructive fashion than the Bucks did in Game 5 against the Nets earlier this series.
Of course, this Nets team, as battered and hobbled as they are at the moment, stand far more threatening than that 2000-01 Charlotte squad that went toe-to-toe with that year’s Bucks team.
The first and previous Game 7 the Bucks wound up victorious came against the Philadelphia 76ers in the 1986 Eastern Conference Semifinals as they hung on for a 113-112 win to finally get past their dreaded rival and playoff matchup.
The Milwaukee Bucks face a tall task in reaching the Eastern Conference Finals
Beyond that, Milwaukee’s history of Game 7s is littered with defeats and heartbreak against some of their biggest rivals. Whether it was heartbreakingly losing to the 76ers 99-98 in 1981 Eastern Conference Semifinals or falling to the Boston Celtics in Game 7 of the 1974 NBA Finals, the last time the Bucks played an NBA Finals game, the Bucks are obviously not looking to relive their history of past Game 7 experiences. Just to name a few of them.
Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton are the only Bucks players to have been a part of the last Game 7 Milwaukee played during the first round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs against the Boston Celtics. That ended in a 112-96 defeat for the Bucks that came in Boston.
Now the Bucks are faced with similar set of circumstances of having to take a Game 7 on the road at the Barclays Center where they have failed to take any of the four games they’ve played there this regular season and postseason combined.
Not only haven’t the Bucks won a Game 7 on the road throughout their franchise history, but the track record isn’t all that great for road teams historically. Home teams have won 77.9 percent of the previous Game 7s throughout NBA history and the last team to win a Game 7 on the road was the Portland Trail Blazers during their 2019 Western Conference Semifinals series with the Denver Nuggets.
We’ll soon see whether the Bucks will be up for the challenge of toppling a Nets team that is far from their most explosive. If they prove to be, we may end up seeing history in the making for this Bucks squad after all.