Who Do the Bucks Need to Step Up for a Championship Run?
It’s been a terrific season for the Milwaukee Bucks. They started the year on a historic win pace, looking to become just the fourth team in league history to win 70 games in a season. But by the beginning of March, the team began to struggle for the first time all year. Then, of course, the season was suspended.
The team began play in the Disney bubble a couple weeks ago, but would win just three of their eight remaining regular season games. Some may see it as a concern, but the beauty of the playoffs every year – and particularly this unique season – is that everyone is back to an even playing field with a 0-0 record.
The Bucks begin their championship quest facing the bubble’s “home” team in the Orlando Magic. From there, they will do battle with Indiana or Miami, and will likely see Toronto, Boston, or Philadelphia if they can reach the Eastern Conference Finals. Obviously, the Bucks are the top seed and conference favorites.
They have the likely back-to-back MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who may have had his best season yet in 2019-20. They also have back-to-back All-Star Khris Middleton, who lived up to his summer max contract with another consistent season for the cream and green. But any championship team needs multiple guys to step up to get those 16 wins they need. Who will the Bucks need to step up during their playoff run?
DiVincenzo had a bit of a sophomore breakout prior to the suspension of the NBA season in March. On the season, the Villanova product has averaged over nine points per game while playing nearly 24 minutes per contest. However, the Big Ragu has struggled thus far in the bubble, scoring below his average and also turning the ball over at a high rate, with three five turnover games in the Bucks’ eight contests. DiVincenzo is a huge part of the Bucks bench unit, and if he is able to turn things around and step up his play, the team could be looking at a Finals appearance.
Hill is probably considered the top player off the Bucks bench, and his contribution in the playoffs will be bigger than ever. Obviously, this year’s postseason is different than any, but Hill again brings a ton of experience to a still relatively young Bucks core. Hill’s minutes have been up and down in the bubble so far, but Coach Bud is likely saving him for when it matters. Before the hiatus, Hill was having a terrific season, shooting a career high 46% from deep. Getting shooting like that from the veteran is necessary for this Bucks team right now.
Lopez is a big part of the Bucks success anytime, but strong play from the big man is needed if the Bucks want to go anywhere in the playoffs. Splash Mountain’s 2019-20 season would probably not be considered his best. Although he has still been a big presence for the Bucks – particularly on the defensive end – Lopez’s offensive numbers and rebounding have tailed off slightly. There are going to be plenty of games in the Bucks’ playoff run where they need Lopez’s deep shooting to be on like it was in the first game of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Bucks fans will not be surprised to see Bledsoe on this list. The point guard has been notorious for being a solid regular season contributor, but failing to show up in the postseason – just ask Terry Rozier.
So far this year however, Bledsoe stepped up his game to the point where he was considered as a selection for the All-Star game. Bledsoe’s numbers might not pop off the stat sheet, but it is clear he has settled into his role for this team and that has helped him become more efficient. But none of that matters now. Bledsoe will be judged based on what he does to finish off his season in the bubble. Bucks fans can only hope he keeps playing as he had before the season’s hiatus.