What now for the Milwaukee Bucks?

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Antetokounmpo has one season left on his contract in Milwaukee.
Antetokounmpo has one season left on his contract in Milwaukee.

The Miami Heat ended the Milwaukee Bucks’ season in the Eastern Conference Semifinals four games to one. For the second straight season, the Bucks bowed out with a whimper after posting the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference. The Heat won the series 4-1 with the Bucks only win of the best-of-seven-series coming in Game 3. Milwaukee star player Giannis Antetokounmpo missed Game 5 of the series with an ankle injury dooming their chances of staving off elimination.

Now, Milwaukee have one season to convince Antetokounmpo to re-sign with the club. The NBA Playoffs are heating up and so is sports betting on the games. Fans are debating which team will win the NBA Finals and fans can wager on the team they believe will win the championship.

Antetokounmpo has one season left on his contract in Milwaukee. Expectations are that Antetokounmpo will leave the club and head to a “big-market team”. The Bucks’ inability to win in the playoffs and reach the NBA Finals over the last two seasons are major reasons for Antetokounmpo’s potential departure – other than money.

In the immediate aftermath of the Bucks’ loss to the Heat in Game 5, there were calls for coach Mike Budenholzer to be fire. The team has confirmed Budenholzer will return for another campaign on the bench, however.

Budenholzer was at the center of the blame game thrown around following the Bucks’ elimination. Fans claimed the coach isn’t up to leading Milwaukee through the gauntlet of the playoffs. Budenholzer’s offensive system is rigid and a desire to play Antetokounmpo 36 minutes a night were all blamed for Milwaukee’s postseason exit.

The coach’s job may very well be safe due to Antetokounmpo. The player has thrived in the last two years under Budenholzer’s guidance. In 2018-19, Antetokounmpo won the NBA MVP award and there are expectations he will do it again this season.

Milwaukee’s real problems are with the supporting cast around Antetokounmpo. Antetokounmpo needs a playmaker to supply himself and the rest of the team with shots. He also needs another high-quality scorer to take the pressure away. Antetokounmpo’s ankle injury which kept him out of Game 5 showed just how few options Budenholzer has when his star is out.

Most successful NBA teams build squads with Big 3s. However, Milwaukee hasn’t put two additional stars next to Antetokounmpo and the hope seems to be the Greek Freak can do it all on his own.

The Bucks had just one player that averaged over 20 points per game during the 2019-20 season outside of Antetokounmpo. Kris Middleton tallied 20.9 ppg, which was second to Antetokounmpo’s 29.5. The third-best was Eric Bledsoe at 14.9 ppg. Leaning on Antetokounmpo in the regular season is possible but once the playoffs begin, the team cannot solely rely on him.

Antetokounmpo isn’t innocent in the blame game for the Bucks’ elimination at the hands of the Heat. The forward showed weaknesses shooting from 15-feet. Once a good Miami Heat team stopped him from driving to the basket, Antetokounmpo was unable to consistently hit pull-up jumpers. Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee in shooting in just one of the playoff games he appeared in versus the Heat.

Milwaukee now have one season left with Antetokounmpo to win the NBA Championship. He is likely to walk away from the Bucks in 2021. The team is now on the clock.

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