With less than two weeks until Nets basketball is officially back, it’s time to dive into a potential first round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the Nets only a 1/2 game up on the 8-seeded Orlando Magic, and with key names sitting out the restart, it’s a definite possibility that Brooklyn finds themselves as the bottom seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. If this ends up being the case, their reward is a date with the league-leading Milwaukee Bucks and their reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo.
This may seem like a daunting task for the Nets, but like all teams, this Bucks team has weaknesses. And while almost everyone would pick Milwaukee in a seven-game series, Brooklyn still has the talent and the personnel to exploit the Bucks and give them a first-round scare.
Let’s take a closer look at Milwaukee and how the Nets can be successful, should they find themselves against Giannis and Co.
The reigning NBA coach of the year, Mike Budenholzer (or, as he’s called in Milwaukee, Coach Bud), is now in his second year as the head coach of the team, after spending five years with the Atlanta Hawks. Budenholzer began his NBA coaching career under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich in San Antonio for nearly 20 years. Naturally, the Arizona native has taken heavy inspiration from his former mentor.
Budenholzer has always prioritized defense, and this year’s Bucks team is no exception. Say what you will about the coach and his lack of adjustments mid-game (*cough* Eastern Conference Finals), but the man understands his personnel perfectly.
With defensive anchors Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Budenholzer completely takes away all inside scoring from opponents. But with the paint defense being the priority, Coach Bud is willing to leave the 3-point line open. That’s what the Nets need to attack. Guys like Joe Harris, Caris LeVert, and even newcomer Jamal Crawford are going to have to be lethal from 3 in order to give Brooklyn a chance. Based on how Budenholzer styles his defense, the Nets shooters will get an opportunity to do damage.