If you’re just now seeing how strong the Bucks are, it’s too late

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It took all of 51 seconds for Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo to declare to the world — and, more importantly, to the Toronto Raptors — how Game 2 was going to proceed.

A rim-rattling dunk off his own miss, between two defenders. A vicious rejection of what looked like a clear two points for Raptors center Marc Gasol. Another powerful slam after Giannis was left alone underneath the basket.

“I think it definitely set the tone,” Antetokounmpo said. “That’s what I tried to do.”cheap nike nfl jerseys wholesale

In an instant, the Bucks were off and running, controlling the action and never looking back as they dismantled Toronto, winning 125-103 on Friday night to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.7

It has been considered a fait accompli for most of this season that the Golden State Warriors, armed with their four All-NBA stars, will march to a third straight title and a fourth in five years. Once the Warriors managed to dispatch their most bitter rival, the Rockets, in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in Houston without Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, that feeling only grew stronger. nike

Now, let’s get a couple of things straight: This series is far from over. The Raptors did win 58 games this season, they do have Kawhi Leonard, and they still have the next two games happening in Toronto as they try to get back into this series. It was only 48 hours ago that Toronto was leading after three quarters and looking as if it could potentially steal the opening game of this series. And if Milwaukee does get to the NBA Finals, Durant is likely to make his return at some point, and Cousins might, too.

So, no, this isn’t a declaration that the Larry O’Brien Trophy is coming to Milwaukee. But it is a recognition that the idea of a 2019 Bucks title should no longer be seen as a fantasy.

For six months, all the Bucks did was run roughshod over the league, putting up a league-best 60-22 record while doing it by an average margin of victory that put them among the best teams in recent memory. While doing so, though, people wondered what the Bucks would look like when they went up against fellow elite competition in the playoffs.