It’s been a pretty humdrum year for Wisconsin sports. The Milwaukee Brewers missed out on the World Series, the Green Bay Packers have been tanking and the University of Wisconsin’s football program couldn’t make the playoffs. However, if there is one team warming Wisconsinite hearts during the early winter, it’s the Milwaukee Bucks. Currently sitting at 9-3 in the NBA’s eastern conference, the Bucks finally deserve a bit of recognition. Giannis Antetokounmpo, basically an all around weapon for Milwaukee, is off to another fine start averaging 25.7 points and 13.4 rebounds per game. Antetokounmpo is nearly singlehandedly bringing the Bucks back to relevancy. A staple of this was his domination over the undoubtedly elite Golden State Warriors, who own the number one rank in the east. Similarly, the eastern number one Toronto Raptors also have a loss to Milwaukee.
I’m not trying to implore that the Bucks are world beaters by any means, but some competitive basketball out of the Bucks is certainly something to celebrate. The enigma surrounding Milwaukee is their consistency on both sides of the ball. Even with statement wins against quality teams like Golden State and Toronto, the bucks still struggle with their defensive identity, which was evident in Saturday’s 126-128 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
In an interview following the loss, Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon said it himself. “We were just a step behind all night defensively, Just not locked in enough. I think that’s what it comes down to. You’ve seen us most nights, you saw us two nights ago against the Warriors; we knew we had to be locked in if we were going to have a chance. We came in there, took them serious. I don’t think we came out and took them as serious as we should have tonight.” Brogdon ended his night with 23 points.
So now the Milwaukee Bucks, finally earning some notoriety themselves, are suddenly looking past teams, not giving it their all? Thats unacceptable in the NBA, especially competing within the eastern conference. It’s there for the taking this year, so in order for Milwaukee to stay in it, they need to rack up wins against struggling teams. A perfect opportunity comes tonight in Denver against the Nuggets, who are trying to avoid a three game loosing streak. Expect them to have some fire on their home court, which Milwaukee definitely needs to step up defensively and not cave in to the thought of being the better team or a gimme win. For the Bucks to make real strides this year, they will need to be “locked in” for the duration of the season.