Fear the Deer: Can the Milwaukee Bucks Pull Off the Impossible?

Kevin RobertsSenior Writer IApril 28, 2010

ATLANTA - APRIL 17:  Brandon Jennings #3 of the Milwaukee Bucks dribbles against the Atlanta Hawks in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs on April 17, 2010 at Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The Hawks won 102-92. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

After the clock read double zero, the Milwaukee Bucks just discovered that hard work and great defense really do pay off.

Milwaukee, who appeared out-matched in two losses to start their first-round series with the Atlanta Hawks, have now won three straight games after going 2-0 in Milwaukee, and suddenly have the No. 3-seeded Hawks on the cusp of elimination.

But let's be honest with ourselves. Outside of saying "I didn't see this coming," did any of us actually give these Bucks a fighting chance ?

Sure, after their spirited run at the end of game one in this series, you thought they might make some of the games close. You probably turned to your best bud and nodded, "they might steal a game.". But now this team is spinning heads.

Mike Woodson is bewildered. Jamal Crawford is non-existent. And Joe Johnson is disappearing.

It's been no secret in the NBA that the Bucks have been one of the league's hottest teams since the All-Star break, while Scott Skiles' group of misfits had even continued a torrid stretch after losing their paint-master star, Andrew Bogut.

But once they hit the playoffs, and once they were matched up with the bruising, banging, battle-tested Hawks, they wouldn't last five games. Well, so we all thought.

The fact is, Brandon Jennings has pulled a mask of a veteran with season and poise over his young, energetic persona, while veterans like Kurt Thomas, John Salmons, and Luke Ridnour have all sprinkled their own version of determination and leadership.

These upstart Bucks suddenly have a 3-2 lead over the favored Atlanta Hawks, and got here by beating Atlanta on their home court, something no other team had done in the past 14 consecutive games.

John Salmons has displayed uncanny defense to match his shooting and penetration ability. Brandon Jennings has picked apart the Hawks defense when they least expect it. And Kurt Thomas has, at least for the moment, helped ease the pain of losing Bogut for the season.

It wasn't easy, and a final score of 91-87 is just as close as it sounds, but they got it done.

And they got it done with gritty defense, forcing the Hawks to shoot outside jumpers, and limiting their chances in the paint.

They did it with team-first mentality, good decisions, and converted free throws. Of course, this three-game stretch wouldn't be complete without a "hats off" to Carlos Delfino, who hit a dagger three-pointer with just over a minute remaining in game three.

You wouldn't be a keen observer if you left out Ersan Ilyasova and his hustle and clutch play, either.

But these are just names. This is an actual NBA team that plays together, fights for every ball, chance, and score.

And if they can find a way to get out of the first-round, there's reason to believe the rest of the NBA might be a little scared.

Yes, Cleveland, Orlando, Boston, and anyone else who Milwaukee could potentially meet down the road: Fear the deer.


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