Giannis Has a Title. Can He Be the GOAT?

Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals, winning the Greek Freak his first championship in his eighth season in the league. It took Michael Jordan seven years in the NBA to become a champion. LeBron James got his first ring in his ninth year. With the 5-time All-Star, 5-time All-NBA, 4-time All-Defensive (including Defensive Player of the Year in 2020), 2-time MVP already in possession of a fringe Hall of Fame case even if he never plays another NBA game, he’s added a ring to that list of accolades. But let’s speculate …

Read More

NBA Playoffs: How Often Do Home Teams Win All 7 Games?

Last week, we took a look at how often teams win the series when they draw first blood on the road. Favorites, as in “the team that gets Game 1 and, if necessary, Game 7 at home”, almost always win—if it hadn’t been for Golden State in 2016, that record would be flawless going back to at least 1991. Underdogs only win 41.2 percent of the time (again, since 1991), but since they only get three home games, they’re up against the wall from the moment Game 1 tips off. Last night (July 17), the Milwaukee Bucks won Game 5 …

Read More

The Weird, Wacky Past of the 1970s Bucks and Suns

As the Phoenix Suns jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the 2021 NBA Finals, handily beating the Milwaukee Bucks 118-105 on Tuesday, I got to thinking if they’d ever met in the playoffs before. “But Fox,” you may object, “the Bucks haven’t been to the Finals since 1974, and the other two times they played for the title, it was against the Celtics and the Bullets. What do the Suns have to do with that?” Well, you’ll notice for one thing that those two prior Finals appearances featured the Bucks as champions of the Western Conference. You’ll also notice …

Read More

Speaking Too Soon: The 2021 Eastern Conference Finals

You ever read something and think “man, I need an editor?” Because in my piece “The Terrible Coach Redemption Tour”, I asserted that Steve Nash was coaching in the conference finals. This is what happens when you have a deadline, Game 7 of the conference semis are still to be played, and of course you’re going to be spending the next five days working a contract gig full-time that’s nowhere near your home studio. The Milwaukee Bucks won Game 7 over the Brooklyn Nets. And of course I didn’t get time to write about it until Saturday. Gods help me. …

Read More

Are We Seeing the Milwaukee Bucks’ Ceiling?

Thursday night, the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Brooklyn Nets 86-83, closing their series deficit to two games to one, with the home team having won all three contests so far. Unfortunately for the Bucks, that 86 points just happened to match their total when they got ritually slaughtered in Game 2 by a 125-86 score, and what’s more, the Bucks’ pathetic 94.5 Offensive Rating in the series so far does not augur well for them unless everyone on the team who isn’t Giannis Antetokounmpo or Khris Middleton suddenly remembers they’re professional basketball players and they start getting with the program. …

Read More

Which Defensive Stats Matter Most in the NBA in 2021?

The Milwaukee Bucks have built a 27-14 record on three defensive pillars. One, don’t let the other team get good looks. The Bucks are ninth in opponents’ eFG% despite being 20th in opponents’ 3PT%. They’re forcing opponents into bad two-point shots and stand fourth in that metric. Even though teams shoot well and often from three, it’s offset by their inability to get to the rim and get an easy two. Two, limit the other team to one shot. Milwaukee is tied with the Orlando Magic for the best defensive rebounding percentage in the league. And three, defend without fouling; …

Read More

A Study In Glorious Failure Part 1: Don Nelson

There have, in the annals of NBA history, been great players who never won a title. The mere mention of the concept immediately brings to mind a slew of guys who, because they came through the league during the reign of a team they weren’t on, retired without that elusive ring. Like “every star in the league who wasn’t on the Celtics in the 1960s.” Or “Every star in the league who was in his prime between 1991 and 1998 and wasn’t on the Bulls or Rockets.” Or the stars of the Dark Ages who weren’t on the Lakers or …

Read More

Anatomy of a Fleecing: How NBA Teams Make Bad Trades

As this goes to press, Twitter is exploding with news that the Milwaukee Bucks traded Eric Bledsoe, George Hill, and (get ready, folks) three first-round picks and two future pick swaps to the New Orleans Pelicans for Jrue Holiday. The Bucks are in blatant win-now mode trying to put a Big Three together (and saying in no uncertain terms that Bledsoe is not a Big Three third guy) alongside two-time reigning MVP and 2020 Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo and two-time All-Star Khris Middleton. But in the process, they’ve pretty much told their fans “if Giannis leaves in …

Read More

Are the 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks Good?

The Milwaukee Bucks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2018-19 before falling to a team of destiny in the Toronto Raptors, who went on to win the NBA championship. This year, Kawhi Leonard is in Los Angeles, the Bucks find themselves atop one of the weakest divisions (if the Pacers run aground on injury problems) in the league, and expectations are so high that the squad has the highest over/under win total in the league at 57. You’ll notice that’s three wins less than the 60-22 record they put up in 2018-19, meaning that if MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, …

Read More

NBA Best And Worst Contracts Part II: Central Division

Yesterday, we took a look at the Wiggins Factor of teams in the Atlantic Division. We found some great value rookie contracts that set the bar for the very best young value plays in Pascal Siakam, Jarrett Allen, and Mitchell Robinson. We also found some terrible values, most of them on the Knicks, and established that somewhere around 400 or 500 is the cutoff for when a contract is just a bad use of the money even on a superstar player. We also found that the standard changes as you rise up the scale; guys on a rookie contract are …

Read More