Bucks begin their title defense after abbreviated offseason
MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks didn’t have much time to celebrate their first NBA title in half a century.
Just three months after Giannis Antetokoumpo’s 50-point performance secured a title-clinching victory over the Phoenix Suns in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the Bucks will be raising their championship banner and beginning a new season on Oct. 19.
” “It was insane,” Holiday stated. They had a few minutes to rest and come home before they began the process of trying again. They realize the necessity of maintaining the same tenacity that helped carry them to the franchise’s first championship since 1971.
The Bucks open the season against the Brooklyn Nets, who would have eliminated them in the second round of the 2021 playoffs if Kevin Durant’s foot hadn’t crept across the 3-point arc while making a shot in Game 7.
“It’s a challenge,” Middleton said. “I think we have to find a way to stay hungry, not be satisfied by what we accomplished last year, to find a way to do it again.”
Throughout their championship run, the Bucks were driven by their past postseason failures. Although they no longer have this as an incentive, the Bucks say that they will remain motivated. Antetokounmpo stated that
“Teams will be coming for them. “But we have to have that hunter mentality ourselves.”
Milwaukee returned most of the key players from last season, though P.J. Tucker moved to the Miami Heat , while Bryn Forbes joined the San Antonio Spurs. They also added Grayson Allen and Semi Ojeleye to their roster. This depth could be tested.
The Bucks might need to monitor their top players in the early part of the season, as they had not had enough rest during this short offseason.
Antetokounmpo, who hyperextended his left knee in the Eastern Conference finals, says he feels good but will be careful with his knee early in the season. After their busy offseason, the Bucks must ensure they don’t work Holiday and Middleton too much.
” They are usually quite good at reading men and their bodies,” Holiday stated. “Not only that, they’re good at maintenance and maintaining.”
Milwaukee hopes preaching caution early leads to another memorable finish.
” “It was a storybook end for us, right?” guard Pat Connaughton stated. Stories have sequels. Stories can have three-part stories. At the end of the day, it’s about continuing the next story, continuing the next book.”
The Bucks are banking on a successful return from Donte DiVincenzo, who tore a left ankle ligament in a first-round playoff series with Miami and missed the rest of the postseason. DiVincenzo started 66 games and averaged 10.4 points last season.
Allen Allen didn’t get a warm welcome from his hometown fans when he was traded to the Bucks from Memphis in the offseason. They remember how Allen ruined Wisconsin’s national championship dreams by scoring 16 points as Duke beat the Badgers 68-63 in the 2015 NCAA Tournament final.
“When I was first traded, 30 minutes later, I would say about 80% of my mentions were angry Wisconsin fans not happy I was coming to Milwaukee,” Allen said.
HILL’S RETURN This is Hill’s second stint at Milwaukee. He played for the Bucks from 2018-20 and provided quality 3-point shooting off the bench before getting included in the four-team trade that brought Holiday to Milwaukee. Hill stated that they had to trade for Jrue to acquire him. This is a simple decision in all situations. Hill said that he is the best point guard in all of the league. There’s no hard feelings.”
Hill also was one of the leaders of the Bucks’ 2020 protest in the bubble that led to a temporary postponement of NBA playoff games.
PUTTING UP POINTS
The Bucks are coming off a season in which they scored 120.1 points per game. That made them the NBA’s highest-scoring team since 1983-84, when the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs both exceeded that average.
FAMILIAR TERRITORY FOR BUDENHOLZER
Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer knows the demands involved in trying to win a second straight NBA title. Budenholzer was part of four NBA championship teams with San Antonio while working as an assistant on Gregg Popovich’s staff from 1996-2013. These Spurs teams have never won back to back titles.
” You acknowledge that it is different,” Budenholzer stated. There will be some things that are unique after a championship. There will be some things that are unique after a championship. But, there are many other things that will remain the same: the competitive nature and the way people follow you. I think our players always embrace that competition and the need to kind of raise to that level.”
More AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/NBA and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports