A Marvelous Journey: Will Giannis Help Lillard Fulfil his Championship Aspirations?

A Marvelous Journey: Will Giannis Help Lillard Fulfil his Championship Aspirations? image

📖 Published on: March 5th, 2024

✍️ Updated: March 7th, 2024

⏳ 10 mins read


After a brief struggle before the All-Star Break, it seems that the Milwaukee Bucks have finally figured it all out considering how well they have improved. With the season nearing its closing run, can Giannis Antetokounmpo deliver a promising run with his new teammate Damian Lillard and win a championship together?


Much has been said about Giannis not being able to dominate the East when he’s already in his prime. Since being drafted in 2013, Giannis only managed to win a title eight years later into his career, where he led the Milwaukee Bucks to its first title in 50 years. Now with Lillard by his side, it seems he can make it happen again while helping his new teammate earn his first title in years.


Damian Lillard and the Chase for a League Title


Damian Lillard was the face of the Portland Trail Blazers for his whole career, and he was slated to be the one who could bring them their first NBA title since 1977. Drafted in the 2012 NBA Draft, Lillard was supposed to be the centerpiece of the team and had his chances as well, leading the Blazers to their first Western Conference Finals since 2000 – before they got swept by the Golden State Warriors and closed the doors on the Blazers. After that, the Blazers went into a depression as the team regressed with the lack of a competitive roster, and Lillard was also plagued with injuries later on.


Lillard vs Warriors WCF image


That would then lead to his one last dance for a chance to go for a playoff run with the Blazers. The 2022-23 season saw him come back from an abdominal injury and establish his career-high in scoring. He would then try to bring the Blazers to playoff contention in the final stretch of the season but to no avail.


This then prompted the news that Lillard was no longer happy in his stay with the Blazers, and went on to look for a team that would give him a better chance at a title.

Rumors had it that Lillard was slated to join the Miami Heat as it was his preferred team. However, Lillard was instead sent to the Milwaukee Bucks in a three-team trade that delivered Jrue Holiday, Deandre Ayton, Toumani Camara, and a 2029 first-round draft pick to the Blazers, while Grayson Allen, Jusuf Nurkić, Nassir Little, and Keon Johnson were sent to the Phoenix Suns. Thus began a new era in Lillard’s career and chase for a title, and he got paired with a two-time MVP who's also keen to win a title once more.

Lillard unhappy in Portland image


A New Hope for Giannis and the Bucks


Giannis and the Bucks were clearly on the fence after making a first-round exit last season where they got upset by the 8th-seed Miami Heat in the first round of the 2023 NBA Playoffs in just five games. The team searched for answers, eventually firing Mike Budenholzer and making the necessary trades that landed them Lillard. Adrian Griffin was named the head coach but was fired in the middle of the season before the All-Star Break, with Doc Rivers moving in to fill the void.


Giannis Antetokounmpo image

This season, Giannis is having the best run of his career so far. The two-time MVP is averaging 30.8 points on 61.9% shooting along with 11.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists. His impressive tear shows how he is impressive with his playmaking and defensive abilities at the same time. We all know that Giannis is a freak on the offensive end, which is why it is easy to expect that he will get more chances to prove his worth on the big stage once more. These are almost the same numbers that he posted in the year when the Bucks won the championship as well.


At the same time, Lillard is also having the best year outside of his Portland Trail Blazers career. He is averaging 24.5 points, 6.7 assists, and 4.4 rebounds per game – all while shooting 42.3% from the field and 34.7% from three. He is showing that he can thrive outside of the Blazers’ gameplan, making it work with the Bucks right now as he continues to steer them into the second seed of the Eastern Conference now more than ever. This also proves that the Bucks are ready to wage war in a tight East where contenders are on the rise as well.

Damian Lillard image


Can Giannis and Dame Push Beat the Eastern Conference?


As far as their impressive season goes, it does seem that the Bucks will eventually find its way to the NBA Finals. However, they will need to come up with a bigger pace that will see them through the East. This has been one of the most tricky seasons to figure out for the East. We all know that the Boston Celtics are clear favorites to come out on top, but then the rest of the contenders are also expected to find their way in the Playoffs, which serves as a threat to the Bucks’ chances as well.


How will the Bucks fare against the East contenders?


Vs the Celtics (Series tied, 1-1)


Lillard vs Al Horford image

The Boston Celtics are the league leaders and are at the top of the NBA for a reason – discipline and star power. While it can be argued that the Bucks also have the same resolve, one thing that sets the Bucks apart is their championship experience, even though the Celtics have reached the Finals last 2022 and have gone to the ECF multiple times in the last five years. Still, the Bucks may be one of the teams who have figured out a way to beat Boston or at least force them to play tight games down the stretch. There’s still two games left to play between these two contenders, so we may yet to see the full strength of these teams when they bear down on top of one another.


Vs the Cavaliers (Series tied, 2-2)


Believe it or not, the Cleveland Cavaliers are contenders this season, and for good reason. The Bucks have managed to win two games in this series, but lost the final of a back-to-back at home against them. Still, the Cavs are one of the teams that may actually threaten the Bucks’ chances of winning as they have seemingly figured out a way to limit either one of the two stars, which is why there are speculations that the Bucks’ playoff run will depend if they actually face the Cavs.

Giannis vs Donovan Mitchell image


Vs the Knicks (Bucks Won Series, 3-1)


Giannis posting up Julius Randle image


While the series has one game left, the Bucks have already won three of their first four games against the New York Knicks. Two of these games are logged into the In-Season Tournament, where the Bucks are +29 in point differential. With the Knicks dealing with injuries and still lacking enough playoff experience to make anything happen at all, it does seem that the Bucks can just steamroll their way through the Knicks without much hassle. Who knows, they might even get lucky on that end and come up with an easy win in their early playoff series if they get to face the Knicks.


Vs the Heat (Bucks Won Series, 2-1)


Jimmy Butler defending Giannis image


Of course, the one team that ended the Bucks’ hopes of defending their title last year has to be taken into account. The Bucks won the first two games of the series with a +20 point differential. They lost the most recent game – when the Heat played with an injured squad and had to rely on their reserves. Still, the Bucks are more than ready to play fire with fire against the Heat in the postseason should they get to see each other again, another reason why Giannis and Dame should be able to plow through the defending ECF champs with ease, especially if they don’t get to return to full strength by the end of the season.


Can Giannis and Dame Win the NBA Title this Year?


It is still too early in the second half of the season to come up with wild speculations as to how Giannis, Dame, and the Bucks will manage to come up with a win by the end of the season. However, given how well they’ve fared against the top dogs of the Eastern Conference, I’d say their chances are still fair enough to bring a title home by the end of the season.


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