(48 Minutes Illustration)
by Parker Fields
The defending champs have had an up and down regular season for their standards. However, the Bucks currently sit at 46-28 and just a half game out of first place in the East. This is due to the balance in the Eastern Conference this season. There are just 5.5 games between the first place Celtics and 7th place Cavaliers. This shows you why none of these Eastern Conference Teams have great records this year. They are simply beating up on each other a lot.
In the 2018-19 and 2019-20 regular season, the Bucks went all out finishing first in their conference each year. However, both seasons ended in pre-finals exits for this team. Last season the Bucks started to give their players more rests and spread out their minutes more to make sure their team was fresh and ready for the playoffs. The Bucks finished with the #3 seed in the conference and the rest is history. They went on to beat the Suns in 6 games and the franchise had won its first title in 50 years. This is why I’m not worried with Bucks’ less than standard record. We’ve been seeing this for years; many championship teams will cruise more in the regular season to make sure their players are fresh for a postseason run. LeBron James has made this famous. During his 8 straight finals run, you would constantly see lapses and losing streaks in the regular season, yet when the playoffs came around his teams were always ready to go. Therefore I’m not worried about the Bucks; I know when the playoffs come around, Giannis and his team will be ready to defend their ring.
I’m so confident in the fact that this team can defend their title because they have pretty much the same core as last year. Besides the absence of P.J Tucker, the rest of the team is still here and ready to go. They have also added a sniper to the core who has really helped their team in Grayson Allen. Allen is averaging 11.2 points per game on 41% from three. He has really given the Bucks a boost as an absolute sniper. Another difference in the team this year is the evolution of Bobby Portis. Portis has become an absolute star in his role and one of the best stretch-bigs in the game. Portis is averaging 14.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg along with shooting an outstanding 40% from three. Portis has cemented himself as a permanent player in this lineup. With these two as the other two starters next to Giannis, Middleton, and Holiday this lineup is looking scary. I believe this team’s lack luster defense throughout the regular season will change into elite when the playoffs start. There are too many versatile elite defenders in this lineup for them not to turn things up on that end.
Overall, I think the Bucks are simply coasting this season. I feel as if they are just saving themselves for the playoffs and will turn up when the time comes. Their mix of shooting around Giannis on the offensive end and then the versatile defenders where they can switch everything will be just too much for other teams. If I had to pick I’m going to have to pick the Milwaukee Bucks to defend their crown and win the 2022 NBA Title.