As many of us probably know, the Milwaukee Bucks started off the year as a heavy favourite, with Vegas slating the 2024 Bucks as the most likely champion. But with the ups and downs of the NBA season, the Bucks aren’t really the heavy favourites like they once were – instead, they seem to have become simply a contender in the Eastern Conference.

From coach changes and roster injuries to clashing playstyles and disappointing players, Bucks fans have been going through it this year.

Milwaukee’s Struggles

From normal early season woes to injuries throughout the season, Milwaukee hasn’t had the smoothest path to where they are today. Again, many thought that the Bucks would walk through the East, but that just hasn’t been the case.

To start, injuries to many key players like Khris Middleton have hampered their offensive rhythm, but Middleton, in particular, hasn’t really been playing up to snuff. And that’s not even to mention the massive hole left by the departure of Jrue Holiday on their perimeter defence because while Damian Lillard is better overall, Holiday’s defensive presence is larger.

Furthermore, firing Mike Budenholzer, who’s known as a defensive coach, has shaken things up for the roster, requiring even more getting used to. It’s really just been one thing after another for the Bucks throughout the NBA season, but they’ve still been able to put together a decent record of 44-24.

Team Composition

Despite the aforementioned struggles, the Bucks still boast a real championship-caliber roster, no matter which way you look at it. Giannis Antetokounmpo remains a force of nature, a walking triple-double who can single-handedly take over games, just take a look at his 50-point game in the 2021 NBA finals.

Moreover, Damian Lillard’s raw scoring numbers may have dropped, but he’s taken on a floor general role and has managed to average over 10 assists per game. And while his defence leaves much to be desired, he can probably lock in during the post-season.

Khris Middleton’s return has also provided some much-needed scoring and veteran leadership that will go a long way down the stretch. In that same vein, the Bucks’ supporting cast has remained solid, featuring Brook Lopez, a defensive anchor and lob threat, and Pat Connaughton, a reliable three-point shooter.

The key for the Bucks will be to put it all together when it comes down to it, but luckily for Milwaukee fans, both Dame and Giannis have a history of doing just that.

Clutch Factor

One thing that can’t be discounted in the slightest is the Bucks’ experience and ability to rise to the occasion in the NBA playoffs. Giannis Antetokounmpo himself has already shown this time and time again, putting the team on his shoulders in 2021. 

However, this time around, he also had Big Game Dame, a guy known for lighting it up in the post-season to secure some much-needed games. He’s found success in the past with a plain garbage Portland Trail Blazers roster, so who knows what he can do with a real team in the playoffs.

With a one-two punch as lethal as this, you really can’t ever count the Bucks out of any game in the playoffs, as long as they are healthy.

Looking around the Eastern Conference, the competition is fierce. The Boston Celtics boast a well-rounded roster with a deep bench. The Cleveland Cavaliers, with their stifling defence and Donovan Mitchell’s leadership, are always a threat. But the Bucks have the experience and the firepower to overcome these challenges.

What are the Bucks’ Chances of Actually Winning the NBA Finals?

Despite a turbulent season filled with coaching changes, injuries, and roster adjustments, the Milwaukee Bucks still boast a legitimate shot at hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy. Here’s why:

Giannis Remains a Force: As we’ve said, Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to be a dominant force on both sides of the basketball. His ability to overpower even 7-foot defenders and create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates is unmatched – it’s like watching a prime Shaq who can handle the ball, we don’t care what any old heads have to say about it. 

You also can’t forget his clutch performances in the past playoffs, reminding everyone why he’s an MVP-caliber talent.

Lillard’s Leadership: Damian Lillard’s presence adds another dimension to the Bucks’ offence, to say the least. While his scoring average might have slipped slightly, probably due to not being the number one option anymore, his playmaking skills have blossomed. 

Averaging over 10 assists per game showcases his ability to orchestrate the offence and elevate his teammates night in and out. And as we mentioned, his experience in high-pressure playoff situations can’t be overlooked – he got his moniker “Big Game Dame” for a reason.

Improved Supporting Cast: Khris Middleton’s return has provided a much-needed scoring boost and veteran leadership alongside Giannis, even if he is only putting up 15 points a night.

Brook Lopez also remains a defensive anchor and as always, a lob threat. Meanwhile, Pat Connaughton continues to be a reliable sharpshooter, although he’s never really put up any fantastic numbers. This supporting cast, combined with the firepower of the starting duo, creates a potent offensive threat.

Clutch Mentality: The Bucks have a decent track record in the playoffs. Giannis has carried the team on his shoulders before, and Damian Lillard has a reputation for clutch performances. This combination of experience and clutch playmaking can be a game-changer in a tight playoff series.

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