Last Saturday night, I got a chance to see the Milwaukee Bucks up close. (NFL and XFL duties have kept me busy. I’ve watched every possession of Bucks basketball though.) I needed to see this dominance in person.
The Philadelphia 76ers were at full strength, until Ben Simmons left the game 4:44 into the first quarter. (Many people are going to use this as an excuse to disparage the Bucks. Those people are foolish.) No matter, what happened was going to happen even WITH Simmons in the game. So what happened?
The Bucks, who didn’t enjoy a big lead at the half, exploded in the second half. An onslaught that has become commonplace for Milwaukee over the last season and a half. Commonplace, but not taken for granted. Not by me at least.
Victory had been secured and the Bucks improves to 48-8 on the season. Forty (!!!) games above .500. As my broski and I left the Fiserv Forum, I did a quick check of magic numbers. I’d realized the Bucks had a chance to clinch a playoff berth, Sunday night, with a Washington Wizards loss. All I could do was say “wow” at the mere prospect of this.
Sunday night had rolled in. I was taking in the D. Wade documentary, when I saw the news. The Bucks had in fact clinched a playoff berth… IT WAS FEBRUARY 23RD! Milwaukee had become the fastest team in NBA history to clinch a playoff berth. Mind. Blown.
The Bucks had struggled since the early nineties. Yeah, there were a few playoff teams sprinkled in between and 2018, but they weren’t viable threats for a title. When you understand this dichotomy, understand the “chase the 8” mentality, understand the threat of your hometown team leaving, you understand how truly amazing this is.
To have en elite team, flying around the court on both ends, with a transcendent superstar who will be the face of the league and has already won an MVP, is something most Bucks fans couldn’t fathom. It would happen for everyone, except Milwaukee. As I watched this team on the court, I had to soak it in. (Of course I had my comments on Twitter, but I soaked it all in.) This isn’t just special, it is rarified air.
I urge Bucks fans and basketball fans to really appreciate this. Teams doing what the Bucks are doing, don’t come around every season. Appreciate greatness. After all, there’s more to come in April.