Charles Barkley can be lazy and out of touch, and occasionally insightful, but he nailed it with the Bucks last night. That’s after he forgot who Jeff Teague plays for, which would seem to be the minimum requirement for his job. Anyway, at halftime, when the Bucks were down 20 to a Trae Young-less Hawks team, he said the Bucks are just good at basketball, but have no killer instinct.
It’s hard to argue. They were toast well before Giannis got hurt (more on this in a sec) to a team without its best player. These things can get tricky, and the Bucks just went through this in the last round. You can find a team inspired for a game to all pick up the slack, or figure out how they’re going to play without their centerpiece. But you can’t get blown out in a conference final. The Bucks had to wait until Kevin Durant ran out of gas to barely get by a depleted Nets team in the last round. There wasn’t any seizing of the moment, or realizing what they have a chance at. Same shit, different day. Things just happen to the Bucks. They don’t seem to exert their will on it.
They’re certainly going to have to figure something out now, as Giannis’ injury looked ugly. And while it was a freak injury (see what I did there), and we don’t know how long he’ll be out, the NBA has to look hard at starting the season on time this fall. These four teams are already looking at barely a three-month offseason, with the two finalists getting less. All The Bubble teams of 2020 had a short offseason this time around, with no team getting a normal offseason this time either.
The defining story of these playoffs have been injuries, which the league will get again if it doesn’t rethink this. The NBA Playoffs are supposed to be theater for its greatest stars. If we don’t get that, it feels like we’ve lost out on something, or that they’re not even real playoffs. Why would the NBA want to risk this again?