Category Archives: milwaukee bucks

Way Too Early Playoff Seeding Predictions for the 2022-2023 NBA Season

By Kalen Lumpkins

Kalen is a fourth year BGSU student from Toledo, Ohio. He is a sports management major with a minor in journalism. His primary sport interests include football and tennis, but he also has an interest in a wide variety in other sports, from baseball to hockey. His dream job outside of college is to be a sportswriter for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

October 18, 2022

Maxwell Media Watch

It is finally that time of the year for basketball fans. After an insane off-season, it is understandable that fans are eager to see how this year will play out. There are plenty of lingering questions that are set to be answered this season as well. Can the Warriors dynasty continue their dominance? How will the Celtics do without Ime Udoka on the sidelines? Can the Lakers bounce back? Who will be MVP? It is a long season, so we are not going to have these answers immediately. However, if you want something to base your season predictions on, I am here to help. Without further ado, here is how I see the NBA regular season playing out.

Eastern Conference Standings

  1. Boston Celtics (58-24)
  2. Milwaukee Bucks (56-26)
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (55-27)
  4. Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31)
  5. Brooklyn Nets (49-33)
  6. Miami Heat (47-35)
  7. Atlanta Hawks (44-38)
  8. New York Knicks (42-40)

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  1. Boston has had a roller coaster offseason after their Finals loss to the Warriors. They signed a much-needed playmaking guard in Malcom Brogdon and filled what seems to be the only hole in the Celtics roster. They also signed a quality shooter in Danilo Gallinari, but then the forward tore his ACL a few weeks later. Jaylen Brown was almost traded in a package deal offer for Kevin Durant that fell through, so there could be tension between him and the front office. Add-on the widely known suspension of Ime Udoka, and you have a team that is riddled with questions going into the season. Despite all the drama, I expect Brogdon’s presence to greatly improve the Celtics’ gameplan, including getting better looks for Jayson Tatum. The Celtics leader was shut down by Golden State in the finals, and that is surely still on his mind. Expect an MVP caliber season from #0 (Tatum) and expect interim coach Joe Mazzulla to continue to emphasize their defensive approach. 

2. Speaking of MVPs, the two-time award winner Giannis Antetokounmpo did everything he could to bring the Bucks to another Finals, but the absence of Khris Middleton proved too much as they fell to Boston in game 7 of the second round. Despite the loss, Milwaukee decided to run it back by bringing 16 of the 20 players that were on their roster last season. The Bucks have proven that they can win when they are healthy. It’s getting healthy that seems to be the problem. Middleton is recovering from wrist surgery, Joe Ingles is still battling his ACL tear, Brook Lopez missed some preseason games because of an ankle injury among other injuries. When this team is not 100%, it shows, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Bucks dropped from 1st to 13th in points allowed at the rim after injuries to Lopez and George Hill. Despite the struggles, having Giannis on the team hides the defensive struggles. We will see how he elevates his game this season, and the continuation of Mike Budenholzer’s defensive schemes should keep Milwaukee in the championship picture.

3. The East was the most competitive it has been in years last season, with the second, third and fourth seed all posting 51-31 records. One game made the difference for these teams last year, and it begs the question of what last year could have been for the Sixers. After a (somewhat) dominant series against the Raptors, Philly would lose steam and fall to Miami in the second round. Joel Embiid missing time of course did not help, but the biggest flaw for the Sixers was the presence of James Harden. Or lack thereof. In the series, he averaged just 18 PPG on 40% shooting. We did see a flash of ‘prime’ Harden in Game 4, where he scored 31 points and carried Philly to even the series in Embiid’s absence. The key to this year for the Sixers will be James Harden performing on a consistent basis, and I think he will surprise everyone and show that he still has it. Embiid will be, well Embiid, and these two factors will make the Sixers a legitimate threat to the Celtics and Bucks.

4. Last season was a success for the Cavaliers, despite losing two games in the play-in tourney and ultimately missing the playoffs. The big three of Darius Garland, Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley made Cleveland a force on defense while also controlling the paint. The Cavs can find success in the East with these three, but a missing piece needed to be filled for them to be championship contenders. Flash forward to today, and they may have filled that void with the signing of Donovan Mitchell. The addition of the former Jazz star means that Cleveland now has a presence in the paint, outside the key and beyond the perimeter, and I think opposing defenses will have a hard time covering all three parts of the court per game. Depth will be an issue, especially come playoff time, but the ceiling of the Cavs with those four on the floor is highest among teams that missed the post season last year.

5. The Brooklyn Nets beat the Cavaliers in the first play-in tourney game last season to become the 7-seed to set up what could have been one of the best playoff series of all time against Boston. Long story short, it was not, as they would get swept by the Celtics instead. And that is when turmoil almost happened in Brooklyn. Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant stated their displeasure with the organization and almost went to different teams. While both players ended up staying, it remains to be seen how they will perform on a team they may or may not want to be a part of the following season. Best case scenario is that the team strives, and the additions of Ben Simmons and Seth Curry pay dividends. Worst case scenario is that the Nets do not improve, and Brooklyn loses two of the best players in NBA history for nothing in return. I expect something in the middle with the Nets as the 5-seed going against the Cavs.

6. The Heat finished last season one game from the NBA Finals but fell to the Celtics in game 7. In that series, it was clear that there was not a consistent threat in Miami offensively besides Jimmy Butler. I expected the Heat to go to work to find that piece, like a Donovan Mitchell or even Jalen Brunson, but ended up with an uneventful offseason. Due to this, I expect a drop of quality for the team. They will still make the playoffs as a 6-seed, but until there’s a true number two in Miami, they will not get over the hump.

7. Atlanta is coming off an underwhelming year of their own after making the Eastern Conference Finals the season before. John Collins and Bogdan Bogdanovic are becoming quality pieces for the Hawks, but I think Trae Young has yet to take that next step in his game. He is an unstoppable force when his shots go in but his decision making still needs to improve. For example, when they were down against Miami in their playoff series, Young would try shots from the logo to spark something for the offense. In general, he has had far too many ugly games in important situations, and I think that trend will continue this year. The Hawks could have a title contending team, but that will be determined by Trae Young’s play.

8. For the Knicks, where Trae Young is still public enemy #1, they will look to improve on last year’s letdown after making the playoffs the prior season. New York was able to pick up help for Julius Randle with the acquisition of Jalen Brunson. I still think Brunson needs to prove himself, but players like R.J Barrett and Obi Toppin will take some pressure off the former Dallas star. Expect the Knicks to improve this year and become possibly one of the top 5 seeds in the 2023-24 campaign.

Western Conference Standings  

  1. Golden State Warriors (65-17)
  2. Denver Nuggets (59-23)
  3. Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)
  4. Memphis Grizzlies (52-30)
  5. Minnesota Timberwolves (50-32)
  6. Phoenix Suns (47-35)
  7. New Orleans Pelicans (46-36)
  8. Dallas Mavericks (43-39)

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  1. After putting together one of the best offensive clinics in NBA history, the Warriors are prepared to run it back as the defending champs for the fourth time in eight seasons. All seemed to be well in San Francisco, until Draymond Green decided to punch Jordan Poole during a practice. Green said after the incident that both will take a professional approach and continue to focus on the team. The impact of the punch to the team remains to be seen, but this group, especially the big three (Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Green) have been through enough to overcome this situation. With that being said, I expect the Warriors to continue to be an offensive juggernaut, and I cannot see any team in the West being able to win four games against this team.  

2. It has been an unfortunate couple of postseasons for the Nuggets. With injuries to Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray lingering in the past two seasons, Denver would be eliminated twice in the first round, winning just one game across both series. This season, however, they come at (mostly) full strength. We all saw what Jamal Murray can do after watching his play in the bubble, while Porter Jr. brings back his defensive prowess. Staying healthy will remain the focal point for the Nuggets, but at full strength they can be a large challenge on both sides of the ball. Oh, and Nikola Jokic will be going for his third straight MVP trophy. Expect Denver to have a breakout season.

3. Even though the Clippers missed the postseason, last year was still a success for LA in my eyes. Being able to win 42 games without Paul George and Kawhi Leonard shows how good this team can really be with the big 2 on the floor. This team also has depth behind Kawhi and PG as well, with players like Reggie Jackson, Terrance Mann, and new signee John Wall. Being a balanced team on both sides of the ball, the Clippers are going to be a force to be reckoned with. I think people are overlooking this squad, and I truly believe that they are the biggest threat to Golden State in the west when healthy.

4. The Grizzlies had one of their best seasons in franchise history last year, and Ja Morant’s huge elevation in his game is a part of the reason for that. What would have happened in their series with the Warriors had Morant not missed time will be the biggest ‘what if’ for Memphis fans, but I expect them to be able to rebound and keep the same defensive identity they did last year. The absence of Jaren Jackson Jr. to start the season will be noticed, but when he returns, this team will have a chip on their shoulder. I also do expect Ja Morant to be an MVP finalist.

5. The Grizzlies’ first round opponent last season was the Minnesota Timberwolves and they put on a phenomenal series. The Timberwolves would fall short, and it was mostly because of poor decision making. Players like Anthony Edwards and Karl Anthony Towns tried to play too much ‘hero ball,’ attempting to carry the team instead of creating quality shots. In other words, the maturity levels between the Grizzlies and Timberwolves were as bright as day. This year, however, I expect the players to take a step forward mentally and become a top five offense on the league. I still think that defense is a concern, despite Minnesota’s bust in free agency, but the players performing more as a team will make up for the flaws on the other side of the ball.

6. I do not think anyone expected game 7 in the Western Conference second round to turn out the way it did. Especially no one in Phoenix. After being on the wrong side of one of the biggest blowouts in NBA postseason history, the Suns are looking to get back to the NBA Finals like they did two seasons ago. The Suns are bringing pretty much everyone back from last season, including a huge signing with Deandre Ayton. However, it seems that opposing teams have been able to figure out Monty Williams’ gameplan quicker than a couple seasons ago. Devin Booker will make sure to keep the Suns in contention, but I predict a decrease in quality for the Suns this season.

7. On paper, the Pelicans can become one of the most improved teams in the league and a legitimate championship contender. In reality, the floor and ceiling for this team solely depends on the health of Zion Williamson. That has not proven to be a good thing to bank on given that he has only played 85 games in three seasons, including missing the entirety of the 2021-22 campaign. Without Zion, the Pelicans held their own by making the playoffs and taking the Suns to six games. The additions of CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram have proven to be gold, but there still seems to be a missing piece and intensity that only Zion can fill. I have New Orleans as the 7-seed because even if Zion misses significant time again, I expect the players to know what to do and still be a quality team. If Zion plays for a majority of the season, however, the Pelicans can surprise many.

8. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, I expect them to have the biggest drop off from last year. Luka Doncic will be, well, Luka Doncic again, but my major concern with Dallas is the lack of a second option. Jalen Brunson used to be the backup for Luka, but he is now in a Knicks jersey. The return of Tim Hardaway Jr. will provide some shooting help, but other players will have to step up if the Mavericks want to return to glory. Spencer Dinwiddie and Christian Wood will have to produce on a nightly basis to help Luka out, but I just do not see that happening. The Mavs will have to be busier come next free agency.

The NBA season is set to kick off on October 18 when the Philadelphia Sixers face the Boston Celtics at 7:30 PM.

Milwaukee Bucks boycott playoff game, halting sports for racial justice

By Pershelle Rohrer

September 8, 2020

Pershelle Rohrer is a second-year BGSU student from Logan, Utah. She is a Sport Management major with a minor in Journalism. Her primary sports interests are football, basketball, and baseball, both at the professional and collegiate levels.

Milwaukee Bucks players refused to play Game 5 of their first-round playoff series against the Orlando Magic on August 26 in response to the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 23. Their actions led to widespread boycotts throughout the NBA and across the sports world.

Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times by a police officer while entering his vehicle, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down (Cohen, 2020). Three of Blake’s six children were inside the vehicle at the time of the shooting. Videos of the shooting quickly went viral on social media, and athletes quickly used their platforms to speak out against racial injustice.

Oklahoma City Thunder guard and National Basketball Players’ Association President Chris Paul sent a message of support to Blake and his family following the Thunder’s Game 4 win over the Houston Rockets, encouraging people to register to vote (Cohen, 2020). Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James asked, “Why does it always have to get to the point where we see the guns firing?” (“Inside the hectic,” 2020, para. 3). Los Angeles Clippers coach Doc Rivers, the son of a police officer, said, “We keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back” (para. 5).

Bringing attention to social injustice and police brutality in America has been the ultimate goal for NBA players in the bubble since the killing of George Floyd in May. The shooting of Blake reawakened the players’ anger, and teams began to consider boycotting their playoff games in order to raise awareness. The Toronto Raptors were the first to discuss a boycott, considering skipping the opening game of their second-round series against the Boston Celtics scheduled for August 27 (Cohen, 2020).

The Milwaukee Bucks became the first team to boycott their game on August 26, participating in pregame warm-ups and media sessions before ultimately deciding not to play shortly before tipoff. Instead, the team participated in a Zoom call with Wisconsin lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes and attorney general Josh Kaul (“Inside the hectic,” 2020). Milwaukee is about 40 miles north of Kenosha, where Jacob Blake was shot.

Barnes said, “They just wanted to know what they could do. I mean, they were very interested in a call to action. They wanted something tangible that they could do in the short and long term. They wanted the walkout to be Step 1” (“Inside the hectic, 2020, para. 19).

The Bucks emerged from the locker room after over three hours, speaking to the media about their decision not to play. The Rockets and Thunder planned to follow the Bucks’ lead by boycotting their game, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Portland Trail Blazers discussed doing the same. The NBA ultimately postponed all playoff games for that evening and the following day (Owens, 2020). 

A quote from an ESPN article reflects on the events of the day: “The Bucks didn’t expect to be the thread that caused the NBA to unravel, one player said. But that thread had been fraying for awhile” (“Inside the hectic, 2020, paras. 10-11).

The NBA boycott also led to postponements of matches in the WNBA, NHL, MLB, MLS, and even tennis (“Inside the hectic,” 2020). 

NBA analyst Kenny Smith walked off the set of Inside the NBA in response to the boycott, saying, “And for me . . . as a Black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight” (McCarriston, 2020, para. 15). Eleven-time NBA champion and civil rights activist Bill Russell praised Smith’s actions. “I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble,” he said (Bieler, 2020, para. 24). 

Many athletes expressed their support for the boycott on Twitter, including San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane, Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, and Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young.

CBS Sports writer Shanna McCarriston (2020) recognized that the statement was four years to the day from Colin Kaepernick’s first national anthem demonstration against police brutality and racial inequality. Kaepernick hasn’t played in the NFL since January 1, 2017, just over five months after he began protesting (Guerrero, 2020). 

NPR’s Scott Simon recognized how far protests in sports have come since then. “This week really seemed to be a breaking point. And how did we get from Colin Kaepernick being considered an outcast not long ago to major league sports joining national campaigns of protest?” (Goldman, 2020, para. 10).

Players from all 13 teams remaining in Orlando’s NBA bubble met in the evening on August 26 to determine whether or not to continue the season. Before the NBA restart, Avery Bradley and Kyrie Irving argued for ending the season in order to prevent distraction from social justice issues following the death of George Floyd (“Inside the hectic,” 2020). The Lakers and Clippers voted to end the season, but the other 11 teams decided to continue and use their platforms in the bubble to promote racial equality.

Former University of Maryland basketball star and Harvard Law School graduate Len Elmore recognized the tangible change that the players have the opportunity to create. “Now they have started to take some action, recognizing the frustration that every person of color should be experiencing and certainly that they are experiencing. It’s a watershed moment,” Elmore said on Glenn Clark Radio (Gold, 2020, para. 3). He wished the boycott would have lasted longer due to his belief that the initial restart distracted from the murders of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. He said, “I would like to see the thing last a lot longer. I thought the resumption of play would be a distraction and it wouldn’t change anything and we are kind of seeing that play out now” (para. 15).

Bucks guard George Hill shared Elmore’s concerns. On August 24, he said, “I think coming here just took all the focal points off what the issues are” (Owens, 2020, para. 12).

NBC Sports’ Dan Feldman (2020) pointed out that the players ended their strike before they met with the owners about social justice issues, writing “Obviously, players lost leverage with that order of events. But owners have shown they’re at least willing to do what’s necessary to present the league as aligned with social justice, and the strike necessitated a greater showing” (para. 1). 

Despite losing some of that leverage, the NBA and NBPA released a joint statement announcing tangible actions that will be enacted in order to support the movement. They established a social justice coalition to address issues such as voting, civic engagement, and police and criminal justice reform. NBA arenas will be used as voting locations for the 2020 general election. Lastly, the league will raise awareness for voting and civic engagement through advertisements for the remainder of the NBA playoffs (Feldman, 2020).

Chris Sheridan (2020) wrote that, “NBA players agreed to resume their season in a bubble in part because they believed their platform to push for social change could best be achieved through having their message seen and heard on every game telecast” (para. 21). They are finding concrete ways to take action as a result of the boycott, especially by encouraging people to vote. LeBron James established his More Than a Vote initiative in June to help fight voter suppression, and the NBA and NBPA agreement helps create “a safe in-person voting option for communities vulnerable to COVID” (Feldman, 2020, para. 7).

The NBA players accomplished their overall goal: they brought attention to another instance of police brutality and helped make Jacob Blake a household name. On August 27, Andy Nesbitt (2020) wrote, “They are keeping Jacob Blake’s name at the top of all conversations and they are doing their part to bring justice for a man who was shot seven times in the back” (para. 8). The boycott reminded fans of the injustices that were brought to the forefront of American life in May when Floyd was killed and showed the importance of the messages written on the players’ jerseys. The players look to continue using their platforms to promote racial equality and the importance of voting in November.

References

Bieler, D. (2020, August 27). Bill Russell led an NBA boycott in 1961. Now he’s saluting others for ‘getting in good trouble.’ Boston.com. https://www.boston.com/sports/boston-celtics/2020/08/27/bill-russell-nba-boycott

Cohen, K. (2020, August 26). The day the games stopped: A timeline since Jacob Blake was shot in the back. ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29748584/the-day-games-stopped-line-jacob-blake-was-shot-back

evanderkane_9. (2020, August 26). Major statement by the NBA players I’m with it! [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/evanderkane_9/status/1298729342994874369?s=20

Feldman, D. (2020, August 28). NBA and players establish social-justice coalition, agree to promote voting. NBC Sports. https://nba.nbcsports.com/2020/08/28/nba-and-players-establish-social-justice-coalition-agree-to-promote-voting/

Gold, J. (2020, August 31). Former UMD basketball star: NBA boycott should’ve lasted longer. 247Sports.https://247sports.com/college/maryland/Article/Len-Elmore-talks-about-social-injustice-in-the-NBA-Maryland-basketball-150909738/

Goldman, T. (2020, August 29). Week in sports: Players strike in solidarity with protests for racial justice. NPR. https://www.npr.org/2020/08/29/907384544/week-in-sports-players-strike-in-solidarity-with-protests-for-racial-justice

Guerrero, J.C. (2020, August 29). Timeline: Colin Kaepernick’s journey from San Francisco 49ers star to kneeling to protest racial injustice. ABC7 News. https://abc7news.com/colin-kaepernick-kneeling-when-did-first-kneel-date-what-does-do-now/4147237/

Inside the hectic hours around a historic NBA boycott. (2020, August 27). ESPN. https://www.espn.com/nba/story/_/id/29750724/inside-hectic-hours-historic-nba-boycott

Mathieu_Era. (2020, August 26). FED UP. Ain’t enough money in world to keep overlooking true issues that effect the mind body & soul of what we do. We cannot be happy for self when our communities are suffering & innocent folk are dying.. since George Floyd, there have been at least 20 other police shootings. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/Mathieu_Era/status/1298719311066853376?s=20

McCarriston, S. (2020, August 27). NBA boycott: LeBron James, other stars react to players’ decision not to take court for playoff games. CBS Sports. https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/nba-boycott-lebron-james-other-stars-react-to-players-decision-not-to-take-court-for-playoff-games/

naomiosaka. (2020, August 26). [Naomi Osaka statement boycotting tennis match] [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/naomiosaka/status/1298785716487548928?s=20

Nesbitt, A. (2020, August 27). The Milwaukee Bucks’ boycott should be celebrated forever. USA Today.https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ftw/2020/08/27/milwaukee-bucks-boycott-celebrated/5642172002/

Owens, J. (2020, August 26). NBA playoff games postponed Wednesday after Bucks strike in wake of Jacob Blake shooting. Yahoo! Sports. https://sports.yahoo.com/bucks-players-dont-take-court-for-tipoff-vs-magic-amid-discussions-of-nba-player-boycott-201058529.html

RealBillRussell. (2020, August 26). I’m moved by all the @NBA players for standing up for what is right. To my man @TheJetOnTNT I would like to say Thank you for what you did to show your support for the players. I am so proud of you. Keep getting in good trouble. @NBAonTNT @ESPNNBA @espn #NBAPlayoffs [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/RealBillRussell/status/1298762120394182657?s=20

Sheridan, C. (2020, August 27). NBA players’ boycott is unprecedented, but 1961 and 1964 offered previews. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissheridan/2020/08/27/nba-boycott-is-unprecedented-but-one-almost-happened-in-1964-and-one-did-happen-in-1961/#621b0bd67ef2

SportsCenter. (2020, August 26). “As a black man, as a former player, I think it’s best for me to support the players and just not be here tonight.” Kenny Smith walked off the set of Inside the NBA in solidarity with the players’ boycott. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1298752425608785927?s=20

SportsCenter. (2020, August 26). “Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball.” Sterling Brown and George Hill read a prepared statement from the Milwaukee Bucks players. (via @malika_andrews).

 [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1298764348819673088?s=20

TheTraeYoung. (2020, August 26). Proud to be apart of this League… even more today ! WE WANT CHANGE[Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/TheTraeYoung/status/1298732388332081152?s=20

WNBA. (2020, August 26). United. [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/WNBA/status/1298792243772428288?s=20