The Milwaukee Bucks will play without their best player, but there are still plenty of reasons to cheer for them. SB Nation's Bucks blog Brew Hoop gives you those reasons.
Why root for the Bucks? Why not root for the Bucks?
Sure, you could point out that the Bucks have had a hard enough time getting the attention of people in Wisconsin over the past few years--attendance was down again slightly this year, and they may never have the curb appeal of the Packers and Brewers. But in the span of just six months, the Bucks have morphed from expected bottom-feeders to the surprise package of the NBA regular season (sorry Thunder). And it's not just what they've done -- 46 wins, the 2nd best defense in the league -- but how they've done it. Overcoming injury, playing a scrappy, relentless style, blowing away everyone's expectations in the process--there's a lot to love here.
Let's break out the bold font and count some of the ways:
We're from Milwaukee. What did Milwaukee ever do to anyone? Seriously, we're friendly, lovable Midwesterners who aren't from Chicago. That alone should win us plenty of points with the casual fan. And we know a bit about angst and futility. Aside from the incredible '71 title team and the '57 Braves team that nobody I know remembers, we haven't exactly had much to celebrate in Brew City (I'll conveniently ignore that Packer championship for these purposes). Heck, the '82 Brewer team that lost in the World Series still gets talked about like they won something, which sort of underscores our desperation. Things have been even bleaker on the hoops front, as the Bucks' 46 wins this year marked just the second time since 1991 that the franchise won more than 42 games. So jump on the bandwagon, or at least down a few beers with us. We're just excited to be vaguely relevant again.
And I promise if we ever win anything, we won't be total dicks about it. Honest.
Our best player just suffered a horrifying injury, so we're pretty much screwed either way. You've seen it. I've seen it. I definitely don't want to see it again. But the reality is that losing Andrew Bogut for the season means that it's pretty much impossible for the Bucks to win a seven game series against Atlanta. Who knows, maybe John Hammond can pull off a last-second acquisition of Teen Wolf or something, but I'm trying to be realistic here. Which hurts, because adding John Salmons at the trade deadline had made an already-frisky looking club look downright formidable throughout most of March. The Bucks had won 18 of 24 games when Bogut went down, and while they managed to win four of six to close the season it's pretty obvious this club sans Bogut is going to have a major challenge competing with the Hawks' physicality.
And oh by the way, did I mention we used to have this guy named Mike Redd? As if the Bogut thing wasn't enough, the Bucks had already been coping with the loss of Redd to a torn ACL for the second straight year--and he had been a shell of his former self before he went down in January.
Scrappiness is way more likable than talent. You've got a wide choice of cliches to describe the Bucks: hard-working, scrappy, relentless, intense, lunchpail, blue collar, hard-nosed. Why aren't these guys selling pickup trucks? Tea Party or Democrat, you can't help but tip your hat to Scott Skiles' bunch, even if their brick-laying offense will also make you want to cover your eyes with that same hat at times. Even John Salmons -- who's inherited Tracy McGrady's title as "best player who looks half asleep most of the time" -- works his tail off on both ends, and I haven't even mentioned the resurrection projects of Luke Ridnour, Jerry Stackhouse and Kurt Thomas. Each of them plays a remarkably important role on the Bucks, which is at once both fantastic and extremely frightening.
We have Brandon Jennings, and we have no idea what he's going to do next. In truth, Jennings' management of the offense has been about a million times more consistent than anyone expected. Yet he's also one of the streakiest guys in the league, capable of scoring 55 one night and bricking his way into oblivion the next (is it good when Tony Gwynn's had batting averages better than your point guard's field goal percentage?). With Bogut out, all eyes will be on the rookie to show what he's got in the playoffs, and what I love most about the kid is that he can't wait for this. Call him brash, arrogant, whatever--just don't call him boring.