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How concerned should the Bucks be about their slow start?

Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday

The Milwaukee Bucks are off to rough start in their bid to defend their throne. After dismantling Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets on ring night in front of a capacity crowd at Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee is now at 6-8 on the season and has lost seven of their last 10 outings. Through 14 games this season, the Bucks are actually at a negative net rating of minus-1.8, ranking 20th in defensive rating and 16th in offensive rating, per NBA.com.  This is definitely not the ideal way to begin their campaign.

So what’s wrong with the defending champs? Is the championship-high affecting them negatively? Are they still in Cloud 9 from winning the title last July? Well, the main issue for the Bucks is not because they have not been playing well. They just haven’t been healthy. The defending champs have been absolutely clobbered by injuries all year. That is the main culprit for their underwhelming start to the 2021-22 campaign.

With all their injuries considered, just how worried should the Milwaukee Bucks be about their start to the season? On a scale of 1 to 10, the Bucks are maybe at a 3 or 4 on the panic meter.

There’s no need to sound the fire alarms just yet. There’s still a long regular season road ahead. All the Bucks need to do is focus on getting their main guys back healthy.

With their core at full strength, especially their Big Three of Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Holiday, we all know what this team is capable of. We saw a glimpse of that in their opening night clobbering of the Nets. The trio has not appeared in the same game together since.

Khris Middleton has been out for two weeks due to COVID. Brook Lopez hasn’t played since opening night due to a bad back and does not have a definite timetable for a return. Jrue Holiday missed six games in total due to an ankle injury. Donte DiVincenzo hasn’t returned from his ankle injury from last season. That’s pretty much four players of their starting lineup from 2020-21 missing some time this season. With that, it’s easy to see why the Bucks haven’t had the ideal start expected from a reigning champion.

At full strength, this team is actually pretty deep, despite losing P.J. Tucker to the Miami Heat in free agency. The Bucks were able to get back veteran guard George Hill, who previously played for them for a couple of seasons. Grayson Allen has proven to be a great offseason acquisition with his 3-point shooting fitting in perfectly for head coach Mike Budenholzer’s system. They also added a couple of veteran wings in Rodney Hood and Semi Ojeleye, who have since returned after missing the first few games of the season due to, you guessed it, injury.

The Bucks could get some key personnel back as soon as their upcoming contest against the Los Angeles Lakers. Middleton is reportedly probable after getting hit with COVID, while George Hill carries the same status heading into that game due to a sore back.

This Los Angeles game on Wednesday also marks the start of a pretty favorable 5-game home stand. After the Lakers, the Bucks will host the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Orlando Magic twice, and the Detroit Pistons, three teams who should find themselves at the bottom of the league standings for most of the season. Milwaukee could easily go 5-0 or 4-1 on this upcoming homestand and move up the Eastern Conference standings.

So don’t fret Milwaukee fans. Your Bucks should be fine.