NBA Playoffs: 3 X-Factor Bucks who could surprise us, 2 who could fall flat

Apr 2, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 2, 2023; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports /
5 of 5
Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Mar 14, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

Giannis Antetokounmpo can push the Bucks to their second title in three years with a dominant run

This feels like a bit of a cop-out. After Giannis dropped 50 points in a title-clinching win, it’s hard to view anything he might do in the playoffs as surprising. But I think we need to prepare ourselves for what could be the most dominant stretch of basketball we’ve ever seen from the MVP candidate and best player on the planet.

The MVP race is as tight as it’s ever been. No matter which one of Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, or Giannis you choose to put down as your pick for MVP, you’ve got a compelling case. But there is one thing that sets Giannis apart from the other two.

All season long, Mike Budenholzer has been watching Giannis’s minutes. It’s not a coincidence that Giannis ranks 101st in the NBA in total minutes played; it’s very much by design. MVPs are great, but championships are what will define a player’s legacy. Budenholzer has wisely been keeping Giannis’s minutes controlled to prepare for a push to capture his second title. Now that the playoffs are here, it’s time to let him loose.

I fully expect the Bucks to stampede whichever poor group of souls ends up as the eighth seed. The second round could be another matter. The Cleveland Cavaliers have given the Bucks trouble this season. With their twin towers of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, they’re one of the few teams in the league that has the size to make Antetokounmpo work harder than usual.

In a one-off game regular season game the Cavs are an issue, but across a seven-game series when you’ve got a battering ram in human form coming at you again, and again, and again, I like the Bucks’ odds.

The Eastern Conference Finals will be another test. No matter if it’s Boston or Philly coming out of that side of the playoff bracket, the Bucks will have their work cut out for them. But still, with home-court advantage, I think Giannis and the Bucks have the edge.

When playing in the comforts of Fiserv Forum, Giannis has averaged an obscene 41.7 points, 14.4 rebounds, and 6.5 assists per 40 minutes. You’re telling me that any team in the NBA is going to overcome four games of that level of play or greater? I doubt it.

Next. 4 Former Bucks Milwaukee might have to face in the playoffs. dark

After what we’ve seen from Giannis all season it’s difficult to view any of what he might do in the playoffs as a surprise, but I truly think we’re about to see a run that will be pivotal in defining Giannis’s legacy. Get your popcorn ready, this is going to be special.