By Lenn Robbins
The good folks in Mil-wau-kee erupted in joy after their team’s victory Thursday night, even if it was more flawed than a tick-infested deer.
The Bucks coughed up a 21-point lead at home. Every singled point, regurgitated.
Their superstar, Giannis Antetokounmpo, is threatening to unseat Ben Wallace, Shaquille O’Neal and Wilt Chamberlain as the most uncomfortable NBA player to stand at the foul stripe.
And the Brooklyn Nets team the Bucks beat defeated in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series, 86-83, had one of the worst collective shooting nights in franchise history. Joe Harris, one of the best outside shooters in the league, was 1-for-11 from the field and 1-for-7 on 3’s. He was wide open on at least five of those long-distance attempts.
So, although the series is by any reasonable measure now, well, a series, it’s hard to truly believe the Bucks are back.
Perhaps there is no better evidence that the Nets are far superior than this: When Brooklyn took a 36-19 lead after one quarter in Game 2, they grabbed the Bucks by their necks and squeezed so hard the lead ballooned to 49 before time mercifully ran out in a 125-85 Nets win.
When the Bucks opened a 30-11 lead in the first quarter of Game 3, it took all of one quarter for the Nets to get back in the game by outscoring the deer-in-the-headlights Bucks, 31-15.
But a win is a win and 2-1 is a series, whereas 3-0 would have been a death sentence.
Before those fans in the Deer District get too fat on Old Milwaukee and venison, let them consider this:
Kevin Durant, who churns out playoff double-doubles like Hershey’s churns out chocolate, shot 11-of-28 and barely missed sending the game to overtime with a buzzer beater that even Giannis said, “It looked good.”
Harris is not likely to shot like a man blind-folded again.
And the Nets are NOT going to let Bruce Brown, who has done a wonderful job replacing the injured James Harden, take the shot on the two possessions prior to Durant’s 3. Not with Durant and Kyrie Irving (22 points on 9-of-22 shooting) clearly the Nos. 1 and 2 options.
The good folks in Mil-wau-kee, as they like to cheer, will counter the Nets shooting woes by pointing out that their Bucks shot 63.2-percent from the line (12-of-19) and 19.4-percent (6-of-31) on threes.
Here’s where that falls apart. The biggest culprit in both of those categories is Antetokounmpo. He is not a three-point shooter having missed 29-of-33 in the playoffs yet he attempted eight last night, making one. What?!
And what’s happening to him at the line is beyond comprehension. He shot an air ball and was called for a 10-second violation, which is as common as seeing a deer running down Park Avenue. Superstars get calls in the postseason and make teams pay a deer, excuse me, dear price. Giannis is a liability.
The Bucks have won a game. That’s all.