Part of the fun of watching a young team with tremendous upside is that wins and losses don’t matter as much. This removes a lot of stress from the game-watching experience because what’s most important is that your team shows signs of improvement, even in defeat. Fortunately “improving” and “winning” are not mutually exclusive events, which was demonstrated during the Milwaukee Bucks‘ thrilling 92-90 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Saturday.
Nobody expects the Bucks to win this series.* The Bulls have much more playoff experience, and perhaps more importantly, they have the often unstoppable duo of Derrick Rose and former Marquette star Jimmy Butler. What the Bucks need from this series is to become more seasoned in high pressure games and play exciting basketball that will energize the fan base. They needed something like their Game 4 victory.
*It should be noted that this series very well could be tied at 2-2. The Bulls are the better team, but the Bucks are not hopelessly overmatched.
The Bucks have a dearth of signature moments since they days of Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, and Sam Cassell. We watch sports so we can excitedly pump our fists and high-five every stranger within 30 feet. The Bucks Game 4 victory, capped by Jarryd Bayless’ game-winning shot, was something fans will remember for years to come. In addition, how they won leads you to believe there will be many more signature moments in the future.
Finishing games is tough. The Bucks appeared to be in control with one minute left, but they could not stop Derrick Rose and Pau Gasol from making two incredible plays to erase a 6-point deficit in 27 seconds. The series seemed destined to end in a sweep when Rose had the ball and a chance to take the final shot of the game, but the Bucks had a great defensive possession that ended with Khris Middleton forcing a turnover. Jason Kidd had the presence of mind to call timeout with 1.3 seconds left to advance the ball and draw up a great play that was executed to perfection.
The Bucks played the last 20 seconds of the game as well as any team in the NBA. That it happened in a do-or-die scenario showed this teams’ mettle and was a positive leaning experience that the team can build on. It also was a long-overdue exciting moment for Bucks fans and it had the added bonus of quieting the vocal cohort of Bulls fans at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.
In all likelihood the Bucks’ season will end on Monday night, and that’s okay. It cannot be understated how important it is to have extra playoff game on the schedule and the psychological lift of avoiding the sweep. While Game 4 may turn out to be the last signature moment of the season, for the first time in 15 years it truly feels like there are many more to come.