The Milwaukee Bucks are down 0-3 to the Miami Heat, but that doesn’t begin to express how dire their existential crisis has become.
The Milwaukee Bucks entered their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Miami Heat with the highest of expectations as big favorites. After a near-historic regular season, nothing short of an NBA Finals appearance and a shot at the championship would be acceptable for the Bucks.
However, the Heat have had other plans and they’ve made life a living hell for the presumptive conference champions, jumping out to a 3-0 lead in fairly dominant fashion. The Heat have been incredible and they’ve flummoxed the Bucks at every turn, and somehow a likely insurmountable 0-3 deficit is scarcely even the Bucks’ biggest concern in the face of a looming existential crisis.
Let’s take a look at why things are even worse than they look for the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA bubble.
Coach Bud has provided a firm ceiling
The Bucks have a dominant regular season track record, but when the NBA playoffs begin and the adjustment game commences, head coach Mike Budenholzer’s dogmatic tactics leave them playing catchup from a coaching perspective against such luminaries as Erik Spoelstra of the Heat, Nick Nurse of the Toronto Raptors and Brad Stevens of the Boston Celtics.
While tactics can put you in better or worse situations, having and playing great players ultimately is what will win championships. Budenholzer absolutely refuses to stretch out Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s minutes, even going so far as to say the following after Game 3:
This is damning stuff. Budenholzer won’t increase Giannis’s minutes even when their backs are against the wall, and this appears to be a hill he intends to die on.
Budenholzer has a clear blind spot that is obvious for all the world to see, and this shows all the signs of being a crippling weakness for a team that should have had a multi-year title window after the fall of the Golden State Warriors. Even though the horizon is as clear as its been in years, this Bucks squad is about to bow out of the NBA playoffs far earlier than they had expected and a heavy dose of the responsibility falls on Coach Bud’s shoulders.
Somebody is going to have to pay the price, and suddenly the head coach’s seat is the hottest of all.