The Milwaukee Bucks are fortunate enough to be the current home of NBA superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. While they have yet to reach the NBA Finals, the Bucks are well underway with Antetokounmpo at the helm.
One of their primary antagonists are the Toronto Raptors, who stifled hope that the Bucks would face the Golden State Warriors in the 2019 NBA Finals when Kawhi Leonard and Co. rattled off four straight wins to take the Eastern Conference Finals victory after Milwaukee went up 2-0.
The Raptors aren't the only rivals in Bucks franchise history, though, and through 50-plus years Milwaukee has seen great matchups with titans of the game. Unfortunately, they were on the losing end of many of them, too, and have but only one title in the organization's existence.
Here are the Bucks' top five rivals in franchise history.
5. Toronto Raptors
As previously mentioned, the Raptors have to be the Bucks' biggest contemporary rivals at the moment, mostly stemming from a past conference finals matchup and the two teams' current pursuit for dominance in the post–LeBron James Eastern Conference.
As long as Antetokounmpo is the darling of Bucks news everywhere, the Bucks and Raptors portend to have a very entertaining and intense rivalry. Despite Leonard leaving Toronto for the Los Angeles Clippers, the Raptors are well-equipped for the near future with budding star forward Pascal Siakam still growing into his potential.
Additionally, the Raptors previously beat the Bucks in 2017 in the first round of the playoffs, again winning in six games. These two teams should be a fun matchup for the next few years in the regular season and postseason.
4. Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers and Bucks have one huge common player in their shared histories: NBA all-time career leading scorer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. While the Bucks drafted “Lew Alcindor” and won their first and only championship under the Hall of Fame center's leadership, Abdul-Jabbar spent the majority of his career in purple and gold, winning five more titles alongside Magic Johnson and the Lakers.
Milwaukee, coincidentally, played the Lakers three times over four years in the franchise's early history in the postseason. Winning twice, the Bucks defeated the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in pursuit of Milwaukee's first ‘chip in 1971 and again defeating L.A. in 1974 in the first round. Between then, the Lakers took down the Bucks in 1972, eventually winning a title of their own.
3. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics were a frequent competitor of the Bucks during the 1980s, matching up four times over five years between 1983-87. While the Celtics won all but one of those matchups, Milwaukee was often shoved aside while Larry Bird and Co. dominated the conference en route to three championships.
The Celtics and Bucks rekindled their rivalry by matching up twice over the last two playoff trips in 2018-19, splitting the two series.
2. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers have been the Bucks' most frequent postseason opponent in Milwaukee's franchise history, playing each other in nine series and 49 playoff games over the course of 31 years. The rivalry perhaps has cooled down because Philadelphia and Brew City last met in a high-stakes moment during the 2001 postseason, where star point guard Allen Iverson took down 1996 NBA Draft classmate Ray Allen‘s Milwaukee team in the conference finals. That incredible series went the distance, with Iverson and the Sixers narrowly taking down Allen, Glenn Robinson, and the Bucks.
The Sixers and Bucks also met in the latter's first playoff series in franchise history back in 1970, with Milwaukee winning in five games in the first round before succumbing to eventual first-time champion New York Knicks.
In the middle part of the two franchises' shared history, the Sixers and Bucks were frequent competitors in the 1980s, meeting six times in seven years from 1981-87. Those Bucks teams, led by Sidney Moncrief, were stifled by the Sixers, who themselves were often stiff-armed by the Eastern Conference's Boston Celtics if not the dynasty Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.
1. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are the Bucks' biggest rival for a few reasons. While they have not been Milwaukee's most frequent postseason competitor like the Sixers, the Bulls have the advantage of geographic proximity and sharing the same division as the Bucks, matching up four times a year and drawing blood. The last few years have been iffy in the two organizations' rivalry, but Milwaukee and Chicago have often been on the other side of rising and falling in the NBA.
The Bucks last fought the Bulls in the playoffs in 2015, losing in the first round to their midwestern neighboring metropolis. Before that, the Bucks lost to the Bulls in 1990 but had the upper hand in 1974 and 1985.