To say this has been a roller coaster season for the Milwaukee Bucks would be an understatement. The Bucks got off to a decent start, then hit a wall. A major swoon of sorts. Then Khris Middleton returned from a torn hamstring. The same night Kash returned, Jabari Parker tore his ACL for the second time in three seasons. The lowest of low points of the season was followed by the highest of high. A 14-4 month of March saw the Bucks not only get back into playoff contention, but saw them get into the conversation for the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference.
By virtue of their Saturday night win versus the Philadelphia 76ers and a Chicago Bulls loss to the Brooklyn Nets, the Bucks clinched a playoff berth for the second time in three seasons. A season that was once thought to be lost after Jabari’s injury, poor coaching decisions, and poor play, has been completely turned around. Fear the Deer season has come again. Maybe that is the problem? Maybe that is why more Bucks fans aren’t excited about this.
Fear the Deer was coined back in the 2010 season. Guys like Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings were on that squad that went 46-36 and secured the 6th seed in the East playoffs. Much like this season’s squad, that team struggled. It wasn’t until a trade deadline deal that brought John Salmons to the Bucks, did they snap out of it. Unquestionably the hottest team in the NBA in the second half. Salmons brought hot shooting and good defense to the table. It was what the Bucks needed and got at the right time. Fast forward to this season and it’s happened again. Middleton came back, was inserted into the starting lineup after a few games, and the Bucks took off.
As of late that streak has cooled. Multiple bad losses to the Bulls, Mavericks, and Thunder have allowed doubt to creep back in the minds of Bucks fans everywhere. Memories of that first round playoff loss to the Atlanta Hawks (After being up 3-2 with a chance to win the series in Milwaukee!) have come back to haunt those minds. The memories of the awful play of the years after that season have stuck with people. I completely understand why this is. Recent years have shown the franchise hasn’t been able to put a consistent winner on the floor long-term. Questions on Jason Kidd’s ability to be a competent NBA head coach, which has regularly resulted in some wretched play, curtails excitement for some. I get it but, it’s time to forget it.
This was once a lost season. Folks were at one point talking about tanking for a higher draft pick, in a loaded draft. TANKING! If you read the previous edition of Squared Logic, you know how I feel about that. I said that to say this; be thankful and change your mindset. The players could have mailed it in for an early vacation. They could have simply quit when things became tough, but they didn’t. They worked through it. (Still are) If the franchise is committed to changing the culture into that of a championship one, Bucks fans must also change their mindset. Believe in this team. Believe in this franchise. Believe there is something special brewing and it will be this way for a long period of time. I’m not saying don’t ask questions or to be unrealistic. There are things we see continuously we must question. Just have faith they will figure it out. No matter what the situation is.
Fear the Deer 2.0 season is upon us. Take some time to enjoy the playoff berth and truly be a part of the start of something special. Change your mindset.