Wow. I can’t believe the season is over. Oh damn.
The Milwaukee Bucks won the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors. Then the Raptors went and won the next four. I still can’t believe it. But I’m okay.
During the regular season, the Bucks only lost two games in a row once. Remarkable. In the playoffs, they cruised to a sweet 10-1 record. Six more wins and the NBA Finals Championship would have been theirs. Then they met up with Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors. Yeah, they beat the Raptors three times in four games during the regular season. But the playoffs are different. Weaknesses are revealed. Some players get super hot (see: Toronto's Fred Van Vleet). Other players get ice cold (see: Milwaukee's Eric Bledsoe). Coaches make adjustments. Opposing coaches make counter adjustments.
When I wrote my last blog post, Milwaukee had just won Game One of the series. Now players like Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Brook Lopez have all gone their separate ways. Not all of them will return next season. But I am super grateful for the season they just had.
I Paid for League Pass When Friggin' Joe Prunty Was the Head Coach
Can you believe it? Last year I shelled out $20 a month to watch a mediocre team perform just well enough to reach the playoffs and get defeated in the first round. The Bucks fired Jason Kidd at midseason and replaced him with the vanilla-est person on the coaching staff, one Joe Prunty. It was a tough season, mostly because the team clearly had so much unrealized potential.
I was excited when Milwaukee brought in Mike Budenholzer to coach the team during the offseason. Then they picked up Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova. They parted ways with Jabari Parker. They installed a new scheme that prioritized solid defense and well-spaced offense. It all worked wonderfully! The Bucks won 60 games during the regular season, which is a huge achievement. They were fun to watch. Fun to read about. Fun to think about when imagining the possibility of them matching up with the Golden State Warriors in a potential Finals pairing. Alas...
I am still a little sad and disappointed at the outcome of this season. I am also very excited about what might happen next year if the Bucks are able to build on what they accomplished in their first year with a new head coach.
I'm not, like, a huge sports person or anything, but this was my favorite season to watch of any sports team I have followed in my life. And I was a fan of the Green Bay Packers during an era when they won two Super Bowls.
I just really like this Bucks team. The players seem to be uniformly classy and decent. They all seem to genuinely enjoy each other on and off the court, too. They have fun. They help each other. They trust each other. As Giannis stated in his exit interview before presumably heading off to Greece, "We didn't have no buttheads." That's really cool, especially when so many teams (see: Philadelphia and Boston) feature so many buttheads.
I love the "let it fly" ethos that guided the team this season, and have found ways to apply it to my life and music. I love how the Bucks kept working and striving to be better throughout a season when they were rarely challenged. It's inspiring. I am proud to wear my Bango Buck T-shirt. I am happy to have found some really cool new follows on Twitter through my support of the team. Despite the season ending sooner than I would have preferred, I am pleased with the fact that they made it all the way to Game Six of the Eastern Conference Finals. They haven't done that since 2001! There's a lot to feel groovy about if you're a fan of this team.
Some fans want to see the team that beat their team get beat. I'm the type of fan that wants the team that beat my team to win it all. And I think the Raptors have a chance against the Warriors. I actually really like the Raptors. They have excellent players and an outstanding coach. Their fans are super chill and polite, but also extraordinarily excited, which is amazing when you consider that the Raptors are a professional sports team in Canada that doesn't play hockey. Many of my work clients are in Toronto, too, as it happens. And Annie's sweet, angelic nephew Noa is a Raptors fan, so I would love to see them win for him.
Golden State is great, but Toronto is hungry. And I can't think of a narrative in which the Warriors winning another championship is a satisfying outcome, given their dominance in recent years. I mean, yeah, my friend (and Bay Area lifer) James will probably feel bummed for a minute, but then he'll remember that his team has won the title three times in five years. So yeah, Go Raptors (for now)!
Are You a Hoops Person?
What is your favorite team? How'd they do this year? What does basketball mean to you in the greater context of life as a human being? To me, it's one of the best representations available of the natural flow of energy within the universe. But I want to know what you think.
Leave a comment below and let me know what's on your mind.