It’s deja vu throughout again for the Milwaukee Bucks — their convention semifinals are wanting eerily just like final 12 months’s collection towards the Brooklyn Nets. To refresh your reminiscence, they have been saved from being despatched packing by none aside from Kevin Durant’s large toe, juuuuust touchdown on that three-point line and sending the game 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 facet of the aisle. If there’s any form of sample to search out within the digital randomness and probability of sport, I’d say that this 12 months’s Bucks are, in a means, final 12 months’s Nets. They’re the reigning champs with a brand new expectation to dwell as much as, and although that wasn’t Brooklyn’s case final 12 months, they’d an all-star team that was anticipated to simply maintain a small-market team 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 12 months for Brooklyn within the first 4 and remaining three video games of the collection, respectively.
And identical to KD did final 12 months, Giannis Antetokounmpo is being pressured to place the team on his again — within the loss final evening, he put up 44 factors, whereas the remainder of the team mixed contributed 51. That’s a ridiculous stat — and but, one extremely just like Durant’s Recreation 7 efficiency final 12 months, during which he scored 48 factors compared to the remainder of the roster’s 63 mixed. There’s solely a lot a celebrity can do to get his team to victory by means of sheer will, and KD and Giannis are testing these limits.
Friday evening’s Recreation 6, during which the Celtics overcame a do-or-die scenario with a robust ending and a miraculous efficiency from Jayson Tatum, will pressure a Recreation 7, simply because the Bucks did final 12 months. To name Jayson Tatum a rising star can be a disservice — he has risen. He put up 46 factors final evening and, if he continues on within the playoffs, is actually making a case for himself for that newly minted Larry Chook Jap Conference Finals MVP trophy. Tatum, who confronted down Durant within the first spherical of this 12 months’s playoffs and led his team to a full sweep of Brooklyn, has his sights set on Giannis as the following celebrity opponent to outplay — and he’s on his option 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 prospect to show the tables, to be the team that steps up round their star, that doesn’t contact a toe to the three-point line in crunch time, to dwell as much as the expectations set final 12 months and go onto the Jap Conference Finals. The Celtics are a much more profitable franchise than the Bucks when it comes to championship historical past, however it’s nonetheless been nicely over a decade since they final took the trophy home. If the team can step up round Giannis and assist him end this off, the Bucks have a stable probability to repeat, but when it turns right into a Tatum-Antetokounmpo showdown, there’s no telling who will come out on prime.