By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Jun 16, 2021 at 10:36 AM Photography: Milwaukee Bucks Facebook


That's all Milwaukee sports fans know, and it's all I'm feeling after Tuesday night's full-force gut punch of a 114-108 loss to the Brooklyn Nets, a heart-breaking defeat pulled from the jaws of glorious victory. 

I want to be mad at the sports gods for their ability to constantly find new and inventive ways to torture Wisconsin fans' souls – but honestly, at this point, I'm just impressed. The Bucks getting "Space Jam"-ed and suddenly forgetting how to sports in the second half of a basketball game, blowing a big moment? Yawn, been there, devastated that. A side dish of a miraculous, all-timer performance from Kevin Durant too? OK, now we're talking a special brand of heartbreak. Making me watch numerous Giannis free throws in the final minute AND a literally dropped ball?! Honestly, a round of applause to your vindictive ways, sports gods. 

Let's take one final look back at Game 5 and at least enjoy the first half, I guess. And enjoy that an outstanding player used our team as the canvas for his greatest work. What an honor – a brutalizing, soul-sucking, joy-murdering honor.  

1. Remembering the happy times

Remember when the Bucks got off to that really impressive start, hitting threes and dunking like Giannis is above? And that we had a 16-point lead at halftime? What a good, fun time that was ... 

2. Pat punches back

The Bucks' bench once again was mostly non-existent (Bryn Forbes got a little play but was chased off the court by defensive liabilities, while Bobby Portis didn't clock a single minute) save for Pat Connaughton, who was bloodied last game but came back unbowed on Tuesday, putting in some key threes in the first half and bringing some spark off the bench. Getting stitches was the best thing to happen to his game – do it again!

3. Getting the Green light

Kevin Durant may get all the shine from last night's Game 5 – and deservedly so – but the Nets and Durant wouldn't have been anywhere close to the Bucks without the help of Jeff Green. Returning to the Nets after an injury, Green was the partner Durant desperately needed to stay afloat – especially in the first half where the former Sonics teammates were pretty much the only Brooklyn scoring. In the end, he went 7-of-8 from long distance – including seven straight makes – and rattled in 27 points, which was all the support Durant needed. 

4. A bounce going the Bucks way

There was the sense in the third quarter, as the Nets and Durant slowly chipped away at Milwaukee's dwindling lead, that things might not go the Bucks' way Tuesday night. But then this play happened – a lucky tip-drill rebound that ended in a timely, briefly run-stopping Giannis slam – perhaps signifying that, as with much of this series on paper, the bounces were going the Bucks' way.

That, uh, would clearly not end up the case – at least Tuesday, for sure. 

5. You the real MVP

OK, we've waited long enough: Kevin Durant. That's it. That's the tweet.

With Irving out and Harden a flabby shell of himself on the floor, the Nets needed their lone standing star to put the team on his back. And did he ever. Durant put in an all-timer performance on Tuesday night, scoring a incinerating 49 points – including 31 in the back half of the game – to go along with 17 rebounds, 10 assists, two blocks and three steals. It was as complete a performance as you can imagine, playing great defense while getting his teammates involved and torching the Bucks from everywhere on the court, seemingly incapable of missing in clutch moments (such as the above Hail Mary three that swished like a dagger).

And remember, he's doing this all coming back from a brutal, year-long Achilles injury. There was concern he wouldn't come back the same player he was – and indeed, he didn't. He somehow came back better. 

6. Greek Freak's got work to do

Admittedly James Harden is a better post defender than people may realize – but a gimpy, hamstrung James Harden should not be able to make Giannis settle for a bad missed fade-away jumper in clutch time. And do so confidently while also waving away any doubling defense or support!

Giannis had a good game in general Tuesday night, scoring 34 points and nabbing 12 rebounds. Unfortunately his shortcomings – his lack of post-up moves, his reluctance down low, his confused eagerness to settle for jump shots, his predictable iso-ball approach as an offensive instigator, his ongoing struggles from the free throw line – made it hard to see the positive through the pain-inducing. He's still undoubtedly an excellent player, but this series – especially when compared to the star on the other sideline – has left him exposed. 

7. Literally dropping the ball

Giannis and the Bucks dropped the ball in Game 5 – quite literally in the case of this critical play, a nice Khris Middleton drive dishing off to an open Giannis that almost certainly would've tied the game late. But instead, the ball slipped through Giannis' fingers and wound up in Brooklyn's possession, essentially ending the game. If life had a writer, I'd tell them that this metaphor – a dropped ball revealing a sloppily missed golden opportunity – was a little on-the-nose. 

8. His best friend

I was hugging my beer just like this after the game Tuesday night, as I too needed its Durant-esque strength and support after what I'd just witnessed. 

9. Barkley bites

TNT analyst Charles Barkley has been high on the Bucks this playoff run, but he – like most of the human race – was not impressed last night by Milwaukee.

Well, at least we have to have Magic Johnson on our side, right?! Magic never tweets negatively, always just delighted by the fun sport of basketball and competitive spirit ...


Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.