I know the Milwaukee Bucks won’t do it. I know their coaching staff won’t do it. I know ownership won’t do it. So, I’ll do it for them. I will (bravely) look ahead to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
As a result of their series win, the Miami Heat will be awaiting the winner of this Bucks/Magic series. It’s a 3-1 Milwaukee advantage, so I’m going to call this over for the purpose of this blog piece. So it is now Heat versus Bucks. (Which will be the case in real life. Bold prediction, I know.)
Let’s revisit the Orlando series for a second. Game 1 saw a bad shooting night for the Bucks. Nothing you can do about that, sometimes the shots don’t fall. Game 1 also saw the defense for the Bucks look wretched. Yes, wretched. Wide open threes, sluggish to zero defensive rotations, were on the menu cooked up by the Milwaukee defense. This is something that CAN be adjusted in-game.
Game 2 saw a slight turnaround for that defense, but Game 3 was where the Bucks looked liked they’d finally gotten back to playing that top-ranked defense, we know. Except, midway through the third quarter, I observed Milwaukee’s defense slipping again. Had the Bucks not outscored the Magic 70-43 in the first half, you’re talking about a FAT L. Orlando outscored Milwaukee in the second half, 64-51.
Game 4 was back and forth, as the Magic made shots early and often. (After a rough 1-for-7 stretch to start the game.) Orlando kept this game close for longer than it should have and the Bucks defense was to blame. So why do I look ahead and backtrack in the same piece?
Miami ain’t Orlando. If the Magic were able to make the Bucks pay for their defensive lapses, both on the perimeter and heading to the cup, what do you think Miami is going to do? The Heat have played the Bucks tough in the “regular” season. It took a gargantuan comeback by the Bucks to defeat them in the seeding round games.
The bubble is weird, we know this, but it ain’t an excuse for forgetting to play defense. Yes there are going to be lapses, those are professionals on the other side as well, but they must be limited. This is the Playoffs,mistakes are magnified and cost WAY more.
The offense has found itself, this defense better do the same. This is still Orlando, but it will be Miami soon. They’re both in Florida. The Bucks won’t be if the defense doesn’t knuckle up.