Last season, the Bucks won their first title for the first time in 50 years (second in franchise history) and were looking like favorites to win a second consecutive title. Unfortunately, they could not overcome the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks cruised to victory in their first-round tie against the Chicago Bulls. Although the Bulls had key absentees, it is difficult to imagine them defeating Milwaukee in a seven-game series when fully healthy.
However, their semifinal clash against Boston was a more difficult endeavor. The Celtics were responsible for eliminating Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and replicated the same physical defense against Milwaukee.
While they were not as successful in slowing down Antetokounmpo, they came from 3-2 down in the series to clinch their berth in the conference finals. To many, the Bucks were favorites to be champions from the East, but their season has come to an end.
With that being said, here are three reasons why the Milwaukee Bucks were unable to win a second consecutive title.
#1 Khris Middleton's injury
The Milwaukee Bucks lost Khris Middleton to a knee injury in Game 2 of their first-round tie against the Chicago Bulls. The forward sprained his MCL after tripping on a drive to the rim and immediately checked out of the game.
Middleton was the Bucks' second-best player, which made things difficult for the team. Although they coasted to victories in their next three games against the Bulls, it was not the same without him.
Giannis Antetokounmpo had to do much of the heavy lifting. While he maintained his intensity even against a dogged Celtics defense, his efforts alone were not enough to keep Milwaukee in the contest.
#2 Poor three-point shooting
Three-point shooting is a big part of today's game. This is especially true for a team that has a force like Giannis Antetokounmpo.
In the first round, Milwaukee had a decent shooting performance from deep, knocking down 70-of-184 three-point attempts in the series. Unfortunately, they could not find their range in the conference semifinals.
The Bucks went 57-of-204 (27.9%) against the Celtics, with one of their best shooters, Grayson Allen, being a no-show. They relied heavily on Antetokounmpo, who was met with a lot of bodies in the paint.
#3 Poor perimeter defense
The Milwaukee Bucks have paid more attention to protecting the paint and are okay with leaving an open man on the perimeter on occasion. While the three-point shot is not exactly a high percentage shot, they were punished for it severely.
Boston set a franchise record with 22 three-pointers in Game 7, led by Grant Williams. The forward was left wide open on several occasions, and he hit a career-high seven three-pointers on 18 attempts.
With that incredible shooting performance, he tied Steph Curry and Marcus Morris for the most three-pointers in a playoff game.
Grant essentially won the game for the Celtics and got no response from the Bucks. Milwaukee managed only four three-pointers on 32 attempts, coming from Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, and Bobby Portis.