By Rick Braun, Special to   Published Apr 26, 2015 at 1:16 PM

Now the Milwaukee Bucks have something tangible.

No, they didn’t win the NBA championship or the Eastern Conference. They're still a long way off from winning their series, much less tying it up.

But they won a playoff game on Saturday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, and it means more than a single game victory.

The Bucks proved in Games 1 and 2 that they could play tough. They proved in Game 3 that they could play even with a legitimate conference contender for 53 minutes before falling in a second overtime.

On Saturday, they proved they can win.

With 1.3 seconds left, Jared Dudley threaded a pass through a small window to a cutting Jerryd Bayless under the basket. It almost looked like Aaron Rodgers throwing to Randall Cobb in a tight window.

Bayless flipped the ball back over his head for a reverse layup, and the buzzer sounded. At least we think the buzzer sounded. The roar of the BMO Harris Bradley Center crowd drowned out all other sounds.

Odds are the Bucks’ 92-90 victory merely delayed the inevitable. They’re now down, 3-1, and no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 hole in a playoff series. Still, the one victory was a milestone.

It ended a string of nine straight playoff game losses dating back to the final two games of the first round in 2010. That Game 6 loss to the Atlanta Hawks in 2009 was the last time the Bradley Center rely rocked like it did on Thursday and Saturday. And since that Game 6 loss, times have been pretty ugly for the Bucks.

When they reached the playoffs again in 2013, the team was limping in with a 38-44 record, not even being competitive in a sweep by the title-bound Miami Heat. There was no optimism for the next season, and things clearly got worse with the 15-67 debacle known as the 2013-14 season.

On Saturday, all of that was forgotten. And a lot more things were memorable, especially in a final stretch that included:

  • Khris Middleton’s strip of Derrick Rose with about two seconds left
  • Bucks coach Jason Kidd’s incredible awareness to call an immediate timeout with 1.3 seconds left.
  • The Jared-to-Jerryd (Dudley-to-Bayless) connection that won the game. 

So what does it all mean?

For Kidd, it means at least another 48 minutes for his young team to learn.

"This is a process," Kidd said. "Everything we do from here on out is a bonus. Most of you guys sitting here didn’t have us here. For us to learn and grow as a young team, every minute we are on the floor is for us to get better. We want to get better each game. We got better today."

They’ve gotten better nearly every day. The leap from 15-67 to winning a playoff game in one year has been astounding. Doing so without expected star of the future Jabari Parker makes it even more amazing.

Kidd himself showed a capacity for learning. In Thursday’s Game 3, after the bench unit played well, he eventually brought the starters back in. The Bulls cut an 18-point lead down to two in the blink of an eye.

When the bench unit got the Bucks some separation early in the fourth quarter Saturday, the unit that was getting it done stayed out there the rest of the way.

Sure, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Michael Carter-Williams are the future. But the experience of Bayless and Dudley and Mayo, along with the shooting of Middleton and the defense of John Henson were the present. Those five played the entire fourth quarter.

And they delivered something other than progress in defeat.

"I said this yesterday in practice: You can only have so many moral victories," Dudley said.

Saturday was not a moral victory. It was the real kind. The kind that a young team can build on.

"We’ve gotten better every game," Henson said. "So to finally win this game, it shows what we can do. Hopefully we can get better in Game 5, as well."