Milwaukee Bucks: 5 Reasons the Bucks Will Win a 2013 Playoff Series
The Milwaukee Bucks came up short of the 2012 NBA playoffs after faltering down the stretch last season. Milwaukee got to watch the Philadelphia 76ers beat them out for the eighth seed in the East, and then go on to upset the top-seeded Chicago Bulls and push Boston to a Game 7.
Expectations are different for 2013.
Realistically, the Bucks won't be NBA champions next season. However, winning a playoff series or two is entirely reasonable.
They Only Need to Get a Wee Bit Better
To actually win a playoff series, the Bucks need to be in a playoff series.
Milwaukee just missed out on the 2012 playoffs after losing seven of its last 10 games down the stretch. Even with that horrendous ending, the Bucks came up just four games short of the eighth seed.
That being said, the Bucks were jockeying for position all season with the Knicks and 76ers for playoff contention and just came up a little short. With the changes that will be discussed later, Milwaukee should be in the postseason next year.
They Should Get Better Than the No. 7 or No. 8 Seed
The best way to win a first-round series in the East is to avoid playing the powerhouses. Most likely, the first and second seeds will be Miami and Chicago again next season, and the Bucks aren't ready to take on a best-of-seven series against either one.
Fortunately, with the improvements for next season the Bucks should situate themselves with the fifth or sixth seed. A matchup with teams more along the lines of the Celtics, Pacers, Hawks or Knicks would be more suited to Milwaukee moving past Round 1.
The fans are cautiously optimistic about the 2013 campaign, and with good reason. But the fact remains that the Bucks will still be building and won't be quite ready to take down the East's elite. It will be important to get a playoff series victory under their young belt. To do that, Milwaukee will have to avoid the bottom two spots in the playoffs.
They will be ready for that.
The Bucks tried to make one last playoff push last season with a late-season trade for Monta Ellis from the Golden State Warriors. Though they came up short, the move will pay huge dividends this season.
The Bucks paired Ellis with Brandon Jennings and created the fastest backcourt in the NBA. Both of them know how to score and have better-than-expected assist numbers.
These two will fuel next season's playoff success and should be entertaining to watch.
With the trade, though, Milwaukee has left itself size issues it needs to address.
The draft will be extremely important this month, and it could make or break the entire season. Numerous mock drafts have been done, and I won't recap all of them. It will suffice to say that the Bucks will most likely be looking for an athletic big man to play immediately.
Time to Gel
The trade that brought Ellis and Ekpe Udoh to Milwaukee was at the deadline, and it proved to be unsuccessful.
The reasonable explanation is that Milwaukee didn't have the time to develop their on-court chemistry for the all-important late-season stretch. Ellis started 21 games last season and Udoh only five at the end of the year, thus not giving them the time they needed.
What tends to be forgotten is that the 66-game schedule was compressed, leaving only rare instances for teams to find practice time.
With the prep of a full preseason and normal schedule in front of them, the Bucks will have ample time to figure out how to play together.
The team is young and inexperienced, and will be able to utilize minicamps a lot more effectively than last season. With all the time to gel, Milwaukee can start the new year off and running. By the time the playoffs roll around, the kinks should be worked out.
It's Now or Never
As stated before, the Bucks don't need to win the NBA championship for next season to be considered a success.
What is expected, though, is some reasonable strides.
Obviously, that will be in the form of a playoff series win or two.
The timing is perfect to show this kind of improvement, and it may be now or never. The way that Milwaukee's current contract situation is evolving, the core of the team could theoretically be gone by the 2014 season.
The Bucks went out on a limb to make the trade for Ellis to win now, and progress must be made. After a highly anticipated draft, Milwaukee's fans and management will have a close eye on what's going on.
If the Bucks do fail to win a series or even make the playoffs, they may decide to start over and let key pieces walk.
It's not a true "never" scenario, but it will definitely be a long road back to relevance if the Bucks don't play with a sense of urgency.