Cleat Geeks

Wrapping Bucks Season: Young Bucks Showing Growth But Work Remains

The Milwaukee Bucks showed some growth throughout this NBA season that came to a conclusion with their first round playoff series loss to Toronto that ended last week. The fact that the Bucks even made the playoffs is an accomplishment. The Bucks were under 500 in early March and had to put a significant run together to make the playoffs. They had their second and third best players each miss about 40 games of the season and Jabari Parker will likely miss the first 40 of next season. The Bucks used their length and gritty defense to steal game one in Toronto. So there is no question the Bucks showed some growth and exceeded some fans expectations this season.

But in order for the Bucks to be approaching championship levels when they move into their new arena in the year after next, there is much work that remains.

The Bucks are lacking in the killer instinct department. Two times in this series the Bucks had the Raptors on the ropes but they were unable to deliver the knockout blow. The Bucks had chances to bring a 2-0 series lead back to Milwaukee but late game missed shots proved the difference in the series getting evened. Then, following a game three beating of Toronto by nearly 30 the Bucks again had opportunity to grab control of the series but again late in the game the Bucks allowed four turnovers thus allowing Toronto to go back home squared at two.

Then in game game 6 when there should have been a desperation and urgency about the Bucks with their season on the line, they instead proceeded to get down by 25 points before showing some character and furiously railing to eventually take the lead before dropping by the final margin of 92-89. The Bucks deserve credit for not mailing it in down that margin but life would have been a lot easier had they not dug that hole in the first place.

The bottom line of this series is the Raptors raised their level of play as a team from game 4 to the end of the series and the Bucks simply could not meet or answer and raise their performance to like levels. The NBA playoffs are a different animal than the regular season. The playoffs require a different level of urgency, execution, desperation than what you have in the regular season.

Photo By: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Are these all lesson that come with experience? Yes. That is the positive for the Bucks to take away from this season. One of the youngest teams in the NBA gained valuable experience of what is the required to win on a nightly basis. Rookies like Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker were given an opportunity to get their feet wet in the NBA’s playoff pool. Giannis and Kris Middleton were given an opportunity to be  the teams leaders in both play and vocally with Parker gone. These are all positives for the Bucks. It needs to be a goal for the franchise that the off floor excitement is equally met by on floor performance approaching championship level. This franchise was able to see first hand that playoff success is not given but rather that it must be earned – and that might be the best lesson for the young Bucks to learn over the summer and towards a bright future.

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