Thanks to the season-ending injury to Boston Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward, perhaps no team benefited more than the up-and-coming Milwaukee Bucks.
Milwaukee, led by the do-it all Greek small forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks went into Boston and defeated the Celtics, 108-100 behind Antetokounmpo’s 37–13 double-double. While some may consider this statement overractionary and a hot take, but the Bucks have surpassed the Washington Wizards, Toronto Raptors and the aforementioned Celtics as the Cleveland Cavaliers biggest threat in the East.
They are young, long, strong and coming hard for Cleveland’s conference crown.
They have a talented and young nucleus composed of Antetokounmpo, Kris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, Thon Maker, Greg Monroe, former Cavalier point guard in Matthew Dellavedova and Jabari Parker.
They have a future Big Three in Parker, Antetokounmpo and Middleton, perhaps the leagues brightest star in the making in “The Greek Freak”, coached by a future Hall of Famer in Jason Kidd and unlike the older Cavs, the Bucks have youth.
As we’ve often been reminded too much in hoops, but it is a young man’s game, and what is flat out scary is that they are beginning to scratch the surface. Thanks to their length, coaching and recent playoff experience from last season, the Bucks are a lot more seasoned and in a position to challenge in the East.
Cleveland is more battle-tested in going to three straight NBA Finals and having this generation’s greatest player in LeBron James is a big chip that they hold over the young Bucks, but this is 2017, and all of the Cavaliers are old and older.
Yes, adding Isaiah Thomas, Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green gives Cleveland an advantage in terms of leadership and experience, but make no mistake Milwaukee is coming.
It is only two games into this still very young season, but if tonight’s game is an early-season taste of things to come, it would be wise for all in the East to Fear The Deer.