It’s deja vu throughout again for the Milwaukee Bucks — their convention semifinals are wanting eerily much like final 12 months’s collection in opposition to 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 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 stay as much as, and although that wasn’t Brooklyn’s case final 12 months, they’d an all-star group that was anticipated to simply handle a small-market group like Milwaukee. Khris Middleton’s absence is being deeply felt on the courtroom in opposition to 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 similar to KD did final 12 months, Giannis Antetokounmpo is being compelled to place the group on his again — within the loss final evening, he put up 44 factors, whereas the remainder of the group mixed contributed 51. That’s a ridiculous stat — and but, one extremely much like Durant’s Recreation 7 efficiency final 12 months, by 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 group to victory by way of sheer will, and KD and Giannis are testing these limits.
Friday evening’s Recreation 6, by which the Celtics overcame a do-or-die state of affairs with a powerful 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 definitely making a case for himself for that newly minted Larry Bird Eastern Conference Finals MVP trophy. Tatum, who confronted down Durant within the first spherical of this 12 months’s playoffs and led his group to a full sweep of Brooklyn, has his sights set on Giannis as the subsequent famous person opponent to outplay — and he’s on his technique to doing it, each of them seemingly competing to interrupt as many information as they every can alongside the way in which.
On Sunday, the Bucks have the possibility to show the tables, to be the group 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 12 months and go onto the Japanese Convention Finals. The Celtics are a much more profitable franchise than the Bucks by way of championship historical past, but it surely’s nonetheless been nicely over a decade since they final took the trophy residence. If the group 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 high.