The Milwaukee Bucks have the best record in the NBA for the second consecutive season as they try again for an NBA championship. They’ll begin their title journey facing off against the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
The Bucks were two wins away last season from getting to the NBA Finals. They took a 2-0 series lead on the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals, only to see Kawhi Leonard go on a four-game tear and lead the Raptors to four straight wins.
Giannis Antetokounmpo won MVP last season and was having a terrific series before Leonard took over in Games 3-6. The reigning MVP knows he came up short last season, so everyone inside the Bucks organization is looking forward to seeing Antetokounmpo attempt to redeem himself in the 2020 postseason.
From what we saw in the regular season, Antetokounmpo appears to be gearing up for a long postseason run this time around. He put up 29.5 points, 13.6 rebounds and 5.6 assists per game during the regular season and could win his second straight MVP despite how astounding Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James was.
With that said, let’s take a look at three reasons why the Bucks will coast to an easy first-round series win over the Magic at Walt Disney World.
1. Magic have zero answers for Antetokounmpo
Although the Magic do have the fifth-best scoring defense in the NBA, Orlando likely won’t have any lineups that can stop Antetokounmpo from feasting in the paint.
In three games against the Magic this season, Antetokounmpo averaged 26.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists while shooting 50.9 percent from the field. Orlando lost arguably its best defender in Jonathan Isaac to an ACL tear during the seeding games, meaning Antetokounmpo will likely have even more of a field day.
In the seeding games, Antetokounmpo put up 27.8 points, 12.2 boards and 4.2 dimes per game, so the lack of fans and neutral site games at Disney World hasn’t had much of an effect on his game. Giannis shot a staggering 62.6 percent overall in six seeding games.
While the Magic can pack the paint and dare Antetokounmpo to beat them from beyond the arc, we’ve seen this season that the four-time All-Star can hit shots from the perimeter with a little more consistency compared to 2018-19. The Bucks superstar shot 30.4 percent from beyond the arc this campaign, and his volume increased as well.
2. Bucks’ depth
The Bucks have had the best record in the NBA two years in a row mostly due to Antetokounmpo’s dominance on both ends of the court.
However, Milwaukee’s depth has contributed mightily to the team’s success as well.
Antetokounmpo’s Nos. 2 and 3 options in Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe have improved their games from last season, particularly Middleton. He’s averaging 21.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists in 2019-20 and shooting an efficient 49.9 percent from the field, 41.6 percent from 3 and 91.9 percent from the free-throw line. Those are argubaly All-NBA numbers right there.
The Bucks beat you in so many different ways. They had the No. 1 scoring offense this season and will likely run the Magic out of the gym in the third and fourth quarter of games. Orlando just doesn’t have enough firepower to keep up with Milwaukee for 48 minutes.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer could possibly win Coach of the Year for the second straight season, as he’s one of the three finalists for the award. It would be amazing if Antetokounmpo and Budenholzer both win MVP and Coach of the Year, respectively, in back-to-back seasons.
While Magic head coach Steve Clifford is no slouch, Budenholzer will likely have a better game plan for his team in the series. Ever since he has taken the Bucks job, Milwaukee has been an elite team on sides of the ball. Players stick to their scouting reports on a consistent basis, which is a testament to Budenholzer and his staff getting their guys prepared the right way.
With no home-court advantage in the playoffs since there are no fans at Disney World, the Magic won’t be able to rely on their crowd for energy. The team will truly have to outplay the Bucks to even win a game. Sometimes in the postseason, you can magically win a game at home thanks to the energy and motivation the crowd is giving you despite not playing well. Orlando won’t have that luxury this postseason.
The Bucks will likely beat the Magic in four quick games to advance to the second round of the playoffs. Milwaukee has the best player in the series and the better coach, as well as the superior roster and system.