NBA Playoffs 2020: 5 reasons the Milwaukee Bucks can win it all

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images /
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Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images
Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images /

4. Length and pace

The length and depth Milwaukee can roll out on defense can make the other team’s primary scorer feel as if he is lost inside a Laura Ingalls Wilder tome.

Brook Lopez, Robin Lopez, D.J. Wilson, and Giannis are all within a whisper of 7-feet. Ersan Ilyasova and Marvin Williams are all arms and reach. And, while the roster, like most NBA rosters, is heavy with 6-foot-6 and 6-foot-7 wings and forwards, the Bucks regularly feature lineups where such heights are the valleys on the floor. Meanwhile, one of their shortest players, Eric Bledsoe, boasts a wingspan that reads like something off a pterodactyl trading card.

And this all sounds great and miraculous, but it’s also effective. Milwaukee posted the season’s best defensive rating and held opponents to the lowest total shooting percentage. A critic or fan can cherry-pick a stat or nitpick a scheme, but it’s difficult to cherry-pick when every player on the floor can close out by simply lifting a hand. No wonder this team leads the league in rebounding.

The Milwaukee Bucks are also one of the most versatile offensive teams in the NBA. For all their defensive strengths, they rank only 13th in points off turnovers. They are, however, third overall in scoring points from the paint (behind the Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans). But they are also a solid shooting team.

Only the Houston Rockets shoot more 3-pointers per game and, yes, Houston also shoots 3-pointers at a 35.6 clip as opposed to Milwaukee’s 35.3 (good enough for 14th in a category led by San Antonio). However, Milwaukee holds a higher total shooting percentage and a higher effective field goal percentage (second in both categories to the Golden State Warriors), and both Houston and Milwaukee average 1.3 points per shot (behind the Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors, and Philadelphia 76ers). The Bucks also rank third in field goals made per game. The team is tied for seventh in assists per game (well ahead of Houston). And, while other individuals could explain what all of these numbers mean better than I could ever explain them, the one number that really stands out is the 118.1 points per game that position Milwaukee as the most devastating offense in the league in large part because they play a faster game than any other team in the league.

For all their size and stature, the Bucks lead the league in pace. Thus, they migrate across the basketball court as a spectacle of 21st-century engineering — like a fleet of jetskiing ents.

In large part, this is all due to Giannis Antetokounmpo. He reduces the court to the length of a single-bound while simultaneously creating space for all his teammates. Going to the rim, he has always been unstoppable, which is why, in the past, much as it was with LeBron, the best strategy to deploy against him has been to build a wall.

With Giannis surrounded by shooters like Middleton and Korver and Hill, such strategies are more likely to crumble, not to mention Ilyasova and Wesley Matthews or even Marvin Williams are equally capable of setting the woods on fire.