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Is This Eastern Conference Contender Bound To Fail?

The Bucks started the season 30-13, and shockingly they fired their coach and hired Doc Rivers. Rivers has championship experience, and the Bucks are hoping he can push them over the edge. However, Milwaukee has looked underwhelming ever since Doc Rivers took over. Are the Bucks bound to fail in the playoffs?

Perimeter Defense

A high level, or even an above-average defense is needed to win a championship in the NBA, and that is something the Bucks have struggled with heavily. Milwaukee was expected to take a step back on defense after trading Jrue Holiday for Damian Lillard, but the regression was more than expected.

Milwaukee fell to a bottom-10 defense during the first half of the season, and their perimeter defense was abysmal. The Bucks don't have any high-level perimeter defenders, and that's putting more pressure on Giannis and Brook Lopez to guard the paint. Opposing wings and guards easily break through Milwaukee's defense, and this is an issue that cannot be solved at this point in the season.

Considering the Bucks' biggest threat, the Celtics, having wings as talented as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, is a big disadvantage for Milwaukee. 

Damian Lillard Regression

Damian Lillard was expected to be the elite counterpunch to Giannis providing high-level three-point shooting and scoring, but Dame has seen a notable regression in his play. Lillard is averaging eight fewer points per game than last year, and he's only shooting 42% from the field and 35% from three. Lillard's regression has been a reason the Bucks have not been as good as many expected.

Still, Damian Lillard is unproven in the NBA playoffs, and this is his first chance to truly contend. 

The Bucks have a chance to win a championship, but key factors such as perimeter defense and the unproven-ness of their roster could lead to a letdown. 

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