On the NBA Beat Ep. 153: Pratik Patel: “This Is the Loosest the Bucks Have Been”

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Despite a dominant performance by reigning, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and Nets star James Harden going down with a hamstring injury in the first minute of Game 1, the Milwaukee Bucks were not able to take advantage and secure the first victory in this highly anticipated second-round series. Pratik Patel of ESPN Wisconsin helps us digest that first game, the implications of the injury and what adjustments need to be made for the Bucks to advance. Specifically, he delves into how the Bucks can hope to slow down the supremely gifted Brooklyn offense, the leadership new addition Jrue Holiday provides and how Milwaukee's supporting cast must step up to support its stars. Finally, we discuss the possible consequences of another disappointing Bucks postseason, coming on the heels of early playoff exits in the prior two seasons as well.

8:30-8:52: “This is also kinda the loosest the Bucks have been the last couple postseasons. The last two years, they were really pressed. There was a lot looming, a lot of talk about championship window. There was all of the conversation surrounding Giannis’ future and this year just felt different. The entire attitude of the team, the aura around them, the feeling in the locker room, was just different this year.”

15:01-15:37: “I think the Bucks are pretty happy with how they defended the stars, especially once they knew that James Harden was ruled out. … It’s about the other guys and how you defend ‘em and what you’re willing to sacrifice in order to potentially send extra help at the two stars for the Nets.”

31:04-31:22: “Last year or really the last two years, Giannis got really good as a passer, as a playmaker – and he’s still getting better – but it really didn’t matter. They didn’t have the shooting around him that they do this year, especially from guys that you can trust out on the floor.”

35:22-36:04: “The biggest thing that they’ve done to help this offense is acquire Jrue Holiday. He’s just a complete game-changer for this team, on offense and on defense. Offensively, it gives you another ball-handler and someone who can play-make, someone who can get the ball out of Giannis’ hands and get him the ball on the run. It’s a top-tier point guard in this league. I was an Eric Bledsoe guy. I was an apologist for quite some time, but ultimately he didn’t show up in the playoffs, and you just felt the second you got to see Jrue start to jell with this team, ‘Okay, this is different.’”

45:35-46:06: “I think that if, let’s say hypothetically, the Nets eliminate the Bucks and it’s not a close seven-game series or whatever, let’s say it’s five or six, and then the front office decides its time for a coaching change, I don’t know that you see much else in the way of changes. They’re not in a position to blow up the roster by any means. I don’t think that they try to move Khris [Middleton]. They’re certainly not gonna try to move Jrue.”

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