Wednesday was a day of historic action. The Milwaukee Bucks decided, instead of just saying the NBA Restart is bigger than the game, to put their “nuts on the line”, as Raptors guard Fred VanVleet said in an interview the day prior. The Bucks decided not to play Game 5 of their first-round series versus the Orlando Magic.
It’s clear the Kenosha Police shooting of Jacob Blake, weighed heavy on the Bucks. It wasn’t just this shooting, but the far too many instances of being guilty because of your skin color. This was a continuation of the grief, anger, frustration, and exhaustion of being Black in America.
Now, there have been many who’ve written (far more eloquently than I) on the events both in Orlando, Florida and nationwide. In this space, I want to talk about the resumption of this series, this past Saturday.
My immediate thoughts, after getting my soul to settle a bit (not really) after another unjustified shooting of a Black man, the strike on Wednesday, and the decision to resume the season, were: Will the Bucks put it all together? Will they be able to tap into that deep zone that allows the best athletes to perform at the highest levels, despite the circumstances?
The Bucks holding the Magic to just 39 percent shooting, says yes. Giannis and Khris Middleton combining for 49 points, 27 rebounds, and 10 assists, says yes. Milwaukee staving off a late game run, to stretch their lead back out to double digits and close Orlando out, says yes.
The Bucks closed this one out, but a much greater challenge awaits. The Miami Heat took 2-of-3 from Milwaukee this season. The third game saw Milwaukee tasked with making a 23-point comeback to win that game. Great. Problem is, Jimmy Butler did not play that game. Yes, the postseason (especially this rendition) is a different animal than the regular season, but the Heat have soon they are defensively sound enough to compete with the Bucks and possess 3-point shooting ability to beat Milwaukee. (We all know how much Milwaukee loves to give up the three ball…)
Against the backdrop of the most difficult circumstances in NBA history, the Bucks are on to the next one. The focus and execution shown in Game 5 versus Orlando, will be needed if they plan on extinguishing the Heat.