Milwaukee Bucks: Game 1 curse continues after ugly loss to Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 06 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JULY 06 (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks played their first game in the NBA Finals in nearly 50 years last night, and it was certainly a messy return to the big stage.

After a closely contested first half, the Phoenix Suns led by just seven at the break. It appeared to be either team’s game at that point, but that changed as Phoenix blew the game open and built up a lead that grew to as large as 20 late in the third quarter. Although the Bucks made a late push to try and get themselves back in the game, it was all too late as the Suns remained firmly in control and would take Game 1 on their home floor 118-105.

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The Bucks often looked disinterested and discombobulated on both sides of the ball, struggling to find any momentum on the offensive end with ill-advised shots while also giving up too many easy baskets on the defensive side of things.

However, despite how disheartening it was to witness, a Game 1 loss does not spell doom for the Bucks. For whatever reason, this team often struggles mightily in Game 1s, as evidenced throughout this playoff run.

The Milwaukee Bucks dropped yet another Game 1 during the NBA Playoffs, which has become a trend

Since Mike Budenholzer took the reigns as head coach, the Bucks are just 3-6 in Game 1 during the playoffs over the past three seasons. For whatever reason, this team is disastrous in the opening matchup of a playoff series, which has been on full display during this particular postseason run as they are 1-3 in said games this year.

Their lone win came in the first round against the Miami Heat, and even that was a battle that could have gone either way. Instead, it took a game-winning jumper in overtime from Khris Middleton to seal the deal and give the Bucks a victory to kick off the postseason. Since then, this team has not won a Game 1 in each of the following three matchups.

The Bucks kicked off their second round matchup with the Brooklyn Nets on the road and looked outgunned in every way. The Nets played like the far superior team in every aspect, and although they only won by seven points, it was clear that this game had been decided far earlier despite the slim margin. Still, that was not as bad as the 39 point loss that followed in Game 2, but the point still stands.

The Eastern Conference Finals started with a shock as the Bucks were upset on their home floor against the surging Atlanta Hawks. All-Star guard Trae Young erupted in the matchup by scoring 48 points on Milwaukee’s deflated defense, managing to help his team steal the opening contest on the road as the home team failed to slow him down to any extent.

Although they have looked rather horrific in Game 1s this year, the Bucks have won every series they have played in thus far. After escaping the Heat in that opening matchup, the following three games were not close whatsoever as the Bucks swept them comfortably. It was a different story against Brooklyn as Milwaukee had to dig themselves out of an 0-2 hole, but they would battle back and eventually win the series in seven games. Most recently, they fought off the Hawks and won that series in six games, despite Giannis Antetokounmpo missing the latter two matchups.

Now, they find themselves in an early hole once again after dropping Game 1 of the NBA Finals on the road. Giannis shaking off the rust after missing the last two games with that hyperextended knee, Khris Middleton finding his groove on offense all too late, and Jrue Holiday simply looking lost from start to finish were all factors that stood out from the loss, and this team will have to clean it up with that opening contest out of the way.

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This team has shown time and time again in this postseason that they can claw their way back into a series, and they will have to do the same in these NBA Finals.