June 12, 2024

The Playoff Experiment: Week Two

This week in my NBA fan experiment, the Milwaukee Bucks headed home down 2-0 in the series against the Boston Celtics. After a poor showing in game two, I was hoping my new team could put together a comeback.

Game Three

Before the basketball game, I was watching the beginning of an excellent baseball game between the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets. If I’m being honest, I didn’t want to change the channel. But I did, and I caught the ending of the previous matchup of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers. It was down to the wire and the excitement lessened my baseball FOMO a bit.

I will say this for the NBA versus MLB: it seems way more accessible. While I haven’t tried to watch the basketball regular season, the playoff games are all on major cable or network channels, with the exception of those on NBA TV. Even for cable cutters, I recently acquired NBA TV through my switch to PlayStation Vue. My frustration with MLB blackouts, on the other hand, is well documented.

Quarter one got under way and the Bucks held the Celtics scoreless for the first two minutes. I was pretty impressed given how Boston seemed to knock down everything at home. The Milwaukee crowd was into it early and the Bucks’ shooting was hot. They seemed to have more energy on defense, as well.

The most exciting development to me was the introduction of big blocks from Thon Maker. I thought I knew most of the players from week one, but I wrote down about Maker, “did he play before?” In fact, he played one whole minute in game two and that was it. He would finish game three with five blocks in 24 minutes of play.

After halftime, the Celtics got to work cutting into the Bucks’ 23 point lead. They must have made some good adjustments at half and I started thinking about how awful it would be if Milwaukee blew this lead at home. As an Iowa State Cyclone, I am very familiar that no lead is safe until the clock says 0:00 and I think a Bucks loss here would have been painful.

My favorite moment happened in the third quarter when Giannis Antetokounmpo dunked on Aron Baynes and palmed him in the face while doing it. I loved the disrespect, even though it might have been unintentional.

In the fourth quarter, the broadcast mentioned that Aaron Rodgers had been announced as a minority owner of the Bucks during the game. That’s a pretty cool development and adds a little something extra to my Bucks fandom because I am a lifelong, maybe-sometimes-too-intense Green Bay Packers fan.

The Bucks cruised to a 116-92 victory, much to my enjoyment because the only thing I like more than a close win is a blowout in which my team is doing the blowing out. I hoped game three was a sign of things to come and not just luck, but I didn’t know what to expect with a new team. One positive was that Giannis didn’t have to do all the scoring himself. The team managed just fine with him scoring 19 points.

On a random note, I decided the swish of a basketball through the net is an all-time great sports sound. It’s probably second to only a good crack of a baseball bat, in my book.

Game Four

The second home game for Milwaukee got started with a shot of Giannis pumping up his teammates before taking the court. It was a nice moment and I like when the teams I follow have a good leader or two.

Despite Antetokounmpo’s efforts, the Bucks got off to a slow start. They quickly bounced back and I was content with how the quarter was ending until the craziest thing happened. The Celtics were ready to move onto the next quarter, too, and Matthew Dellavedova stole their inbounds pass for a close range shot as time ran out. Maybe seasoned basketball fans wouldn’t be phased by that play, but I loved it.

In quarter two, I noticed that Jabari Parker was playing really well. He ended the game with 16 points, only one fewer than in game three and significantly more than games one and two. I was glad to see someone new stepping up for the Bucks as the series went on.

Boston once again tried to put together a run in the third quarter. I found myself in my feelings about a BLATANT jersey grab by one of the Celtics that would have been good for a few yards in the NFL. I would say my fan bias is coming along nicely, but that was a very obvious missed call.

The Celtics continued to make a game of it in the fourth, but this felt different than game one. I used to feel like an outsider, entertained by the back and forth of it. This time the suspense was not fun at all and the thought of the Bucks losing this game felt sickening.

Thon Maker had himself another block party with five rejections and we had a Giannis mean mug sighting late in the quarter. But things got really interesting in the final minute. Giannis’ tip in shot rolled around the rim before finally dropping to give Milwaukee the lead with five seconds remaining. As if that weren’t enough, Boston’s final shot was reviewed by the officials. Ultimately, the Bucks were declared the winner and the series was tied!

Game Five

I missed the first half of game five because I am a human who has lame responsibilities like work and cooking dinner for myself. That 6 p.m. tip off just did not happen this time. But I had to laugh that I turned on the game to hear the halftime analysts discussing Marcus Smart flopping. Some things really never change! Game five was his first one back from a thumb injury.

After a hard foul against Terry Rozier, I started thinking about how shocking it is to see dudes that big go flying through the air. They definitely don’t like it either because a little fight broke out between Rozier and Eric Bledsoe a few minutes later. I would never want to see players get suspended for the deciding games of a series, but fights in any sport are kind of fun. Fortunately, it was not that serious. Both players were assessed fouls and the Boston crowd told Bledsoe how they felt.

Shabazz Muhammad was on fire in the third quarter. I was surprised to see in the box score later that he only played 10 minutes. I’m not in the business of questioning coaches in sports I don’t know everything about, but maybe getting him some more minutes is worth a shot.

The Bucks tried to get back into it in the fourth, but the offense was cold. The team shot just under 37% from two – and worse from three – for the game. One particular miss from very close made me go from laying flat on my back to sitting straight upright. It was that awful. Some unprintable words were muttered and the Celtics won 92-87.

It was a good game, even if it’s hard to enjoy when my team loses. I think the Bucks can hold their own in Milwaukee for game six, but could they beat the Celtics in Boston for game seven? I really hope so because I don’t know if I can get into cheering for the Celtics. I will follow them, but I won’t like it. I may be hooked on the Bucks at this point.

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Nicole Gustafson
Nicole Gustafson 56 Articles

Nicole was born in Chicago and raised in Des Moines. She took her talents to The Iowa State University, where she earned a degree in journalism. You can find Nicole cheering on her favorite sports teams, hanging out with her dog, or finishing a Netflix marathon. Nicole is a big fan of #pitcherswhorake, fat guy TD's, and carbs. She's not a fan of mornings, winter, or vegetables and will complain to anyone who will listen.

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