The Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA Championship in 50 years back in 2021.
It was a wonderful experience and emotional celebration as the Bucks triumphed once again and stood atop the NBA mountain. However, many people don’t think it should have taken the Bucks 50 whole years to win another title, especially with how good they have been in recent memory. One such person is Bleacher Report’s Andy Bailey.
In his latest piece for B/R, Bailey ranked the top five teams of the past five seasons to not win an NBA championship. Not only did the 2018-19 Bucks place second, but the 2019-20 team came in fourth place. The Bucks were the only franchise in the top five with two different teams featured, showcasing that they have left quite a bit on the table in recent memory.
Bucks have left plenty on the table in recent memory, per recent ranking
Not only does it make sense to list both of these teams, but it would not have been surprising to see the 2022-23 team, who had the best overall record in the league, mentioned as well.
The 2018-19 Bucks were special. In their first year under Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee took off, dominating the rest of the league and finishing with a 60-22 record. They flew through the first two rounds of the playoffs, steamrolling the Detroit Pistons and Boston Celtics. They were even up 2-0 on the Toronto Raptors before losing four straight games and being sent home.
It was frustrating because that team seemed destined to meet the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals that year. Giannis Antetokounmpo was dominant in his first MVP season, and he had an All-Star running mate in Khris Middleton, in addition to a nice supporting cast of Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez, Malcolm Brogdon, and more. The joy after going up 2-0 was real but short-lived.
The following year, the Bucks were once again a well-oiled machine, finishing with a 57-17 record. Giannis Antetokounmpo led an outright formidable defensive group, which helped him take home the Defensive Player of the Year Award, along with his second MVP. Yet, when play resumed in the NBA bubble, it was clear that the team was not the same team prior to the season pausing.
The top-seeded Bucks looked like a shell of themselves, which was exposed in the second round of the playoffs when they met the Miami Heat. Miami took down the Bucks with little resistance, knocking them out in five games. It was an incredibly disappointing close to the season after yet another impressive regular season showing.
Winning it all in 2021 helped ease the pain of those two other playoff exits, but there’s no doubt that this team has left some food on the table. Rather than dwell on the past, the team needs to look forward and get back to the promised land. Just like it was leading up to the 2020-21 season, it seems like this year is do-or-die for the Milwaukee Bucks. The pressure is certainly on.
Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.