The Bucks are officially locked in to the 6 seed, and will play the Raptors in round 1 of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Unfortunately, this may be the worst possible matchup the Bucks could have drawn in the first round. They have struggled mightily against this (pretty much the same) roster the past couple seasons. However, nobody is mistaking this version of the Milwaukee Bucks as a true threat for the Larry O’Brien trophy this year. While that much is true, there are still some key things the Bucks can look at for evaluation of the future.
The point guard position has been really hindering the Bucks down the stretch, as has a lack of a true starting quality center at this point. Brogdon has been fantastic when healthy, but his absence down the stretch has shown what a whiff the signing of Matthew Dellavedova. It’s also unclear if Brogdon is a clear point-guard, or if he’d be better suited as a play-making shooting guard in the case that Tony Snell departs in free agency. It will be interesting to watch just how effective he can be defensively in slowing down the still-rehabbing Kyle Lowry. Lowry has had stretches of brilliance in his return from injury, but also has shown noticeable signs of rust. Brogdon has the veteran savvy rarely seen in rookies, and maybe he can capitalize on a less than healthy Lowry if he himself is fully healed.
The center position is the other area of real weakness the Bucks have in comparison to the Raptors(and most teams currently). Maker has been the place holder at the center position for now, but that is mostly due to Kidd wanting to get the young big man some minutes as well as really not having many better options. Maker also only plays a small portion of the game, as it’s clear he’s not ready yet for a larger role. Jonas Valanciunas has been a skilled massive big for the Raptors, and the Bucks have no real answer for this. Henson is probably the one best suited to slow him down defensively, but he has fallen out of the rotation entirely as he has throughout his tenure despite showing signs of promise when given extended minutes. It will be interesting to see if Kidd tries to counter with a small-ball lineup and slide the ever-versatile Giannis Antetokounmpo to center and try to run and gun.
The last thing to really watch for is who will step up to really be that consistent 3rd threat. Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton have been close to brilliant down the stretch, but it’s been easy for defenses to make life difficult on them when they don’t really have to worry about play-making threats from the other 3 positions. Brogdon’s return just in time for the playoffs should alleviate some of that added pressure on their two stars, but they’ll need more. Greg Monroe has been fantastic off the bench for most of the season, but some games he’ll end up with three points. While he’s a great passer and rebounder, the Bucks need his scoring just as much as those two qualities off the bench.
This Bucks season has been as fun a season as one can remember, mostly due to the emergence of Giannis Antetokounmpo as a once in a generation-type talent. It’s been a long, long time since the Milwaukee Bucks have had a roster that contains a player that has that type of ceiling. They’ll be playing free, and with raw emotion, due to Antetokounmpo’s drive and desire to compete every second on the court and having nothing to lose. They definitely have the potential to be a team that causes some serious headaches in the playoffs, but it’s more likely that they’ll gain valuable experience and continue to mature and grow and use this experience to vault them into the next level of playoff contenders next season.