It’s deja vu throughout again for the Milwaukee Bucks — their convention semifinals are wanting eerily much like final yr’s sequence towards the Brooklyn Nets. To refresh your reminiscence, they have been saved from being despatched packing by none aside from Kevin Durant’s huge toe, juuuuust touchdown on that three-point line and sending the sport to extra time, permitting the Bucks to place it away and proceed on their path to their first finals victory in half a century.
However this time, they’re on the opposite aspect of the aisle. If there’s any type of sample to search out within the digital randomness and likelihood of sport, I’d say that this yr’s Bucks are, in a means, final yr’s Nets. They’re the reigning champs with a brand new expectation to stay as much as, and although that wasn’t Brooklyn’s case final yr, they’d an all-star workforce that was anticipated to simply maintain a small-market workforce like Milwaukee. Khris Middleton’s absence is being deeply felt on the courtroom towards the Celtics, simply as James Harden’s and Kyrie Irving’s accidents have been final yr for Brooklyn within the first 4 and last three video games of the sequence, respectively.
And similar to KD did final yr, Giannis Antetokounmpo is being pressured to place the workforce on his again — within the loss final night time, he put up 44 factors, whereas the remainder of the workforce mixed contributed 51. That’s a ridiculous stat — and but, one extremely much like Durant’s Sport 7 efficiency final yr, during which he scored 48 factors compared to the remainder of the roster’s 63 mixed. There’s solely a lot a famous person can do to get his workforce to victory by way of sheer will, and KD and Giannis are testing these limits.
Friday night time’s Sport 6, during which the Celtics overcame a do-or-die scenario with a robust ending and a miraculous efficiency from Jayson Tatum, will drive a Sport 7, simply because the Bucks did final yr. To name Jayson Tatum a rising star could be a disservice — he has risen. He put up 46 factors final night time and, if he continues on within the playoffs, is actually making a case for himself for that newly minted Larry Chook Japanese Convention Finals MVP trophy. Tatum, who confronted down Durant within the first spherical of this yr’s playoffs and led his workforce to a full sweep of Brooklyn, has his sights set on Giannis as the following famous person opponent to outplay — and he’s on his approach to doing it, each of them seemingly competing to interrupt as many information as they every can alongside the best way.
On Sunday, the Bucks have the possibility to show the tables, to be the workforce that steps up round their star, that doesn’t contact a toe to the three-point line in crunch time, to stay as much as the expectations set final yr and go onto the Japanese Convention Finals. The Celtics are a much more profitable franchise than the Bucks by way of championship historical past, nevertheless it’s nonetheless been properly over a decade since they final took the trophy house. If the workforce can step up round Giannis and assist him end this off, the Bucks have a strong likelihood to repeat, but when it turns right into a Tatum-Antetokounmpo showdown, there’s no telling who will come out on prime.