After game 2 of the Milwaukee Bucks versus Boston Celtics playoff series, I stepped into Squared Logic and questioned the heart of some Bucks players. I said the Bucks not only buried themselves in an 0-2 hole, but buried the fan base that has supported and believed in them also. Do I regret saying this? No. It was something that needed to be said. There were legit effort and heart questions that needed to be asked and answered. The only group that could answer them were the Bucks. The only way they could answer them, was on the court. It’s safe to say they’ve done that.
It’s unfortunate when anyone gets hurt, (I don’t wish that upon anyone.) but John Henson’s lack of availability starting with game 3 (back injury) has been a blessing in disguise. It freed up time for two guys and they’ve made the most of it.
Jabari Parker had 2 points in Games 1 and 2. He was also averaging barely 13 minutes a game. (Rough math) I’ve long been on the record in saying until you give Jabari starter minutes (meaning at least 30 minutes per game) you would not and could not expect stater production from him. While he hasn’t started, he’s played 30 minutes in game 3 and 24 in game 4. Parker has put up 33 points over the course of his last two games. ( 17 in game 3, 16 in game 4) He’s made the most of his time and has proven to be a match up problem for the Celtics.
Another guy that has made the most of his time is Thon Maker. For as down as people have been on Jabari, it’s been far worse for Thon all season. I’m on the record as saying this year has been a sophomore slump of epic proportions. His shooting percentages were down, his rebounding was down, his defense was down, and so was his confidence. How soon did we all forget about how good Thon was in the playoffs last season against the Raptors? (In his rookie year nonetheless.) Playoff Thon has re-awakened. Over the last two games, Thon is averaging 11.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.0 blocks, and 27 minutes. Production desperately needed, from the most unlikeliest of sources.
That’s what it’s going to take to continuing to win in the playoffs. The Bucks must be much more than Giannis ,Middleton, and Brogdon. (Who have been nothing short of stellar all series.) Guys like Bledsoe, Parker, Maker,and Dellavedova (who’s grit and peskiness was sorely missed, whether people want to admit it or not.) have to continue to show up.
Tonight comes another huge test in this Bucks “resurgence.” Neither team has yet to win on the road. I chose the Bucks to win the series in 7 games, so they will have to steal one on the road. Thing is, if the Bucks have now truly shown up, stealing game 5 on the road and closing out at the BMOHBC in game 6 is an outcome that seems to be realistic. After all, isn’t the standard Bucks fan prediction #Bucksin6?