Milwaukee Bucks: nba FUTURES & BETTING ODDS
The Milwaukee Bucks began play in the 1968-69 NBA season and they struggled, as many expansion teams do, going 27-55. The Milwaukee Bucks odds would change forever early on, as they won a coin flip with fellow cellar-dweller the Phoenix Suns, for the first overall pick in the next NBA draft and the Bucks won the toss. This was especially crucial for the 1969 draft since the consensus first overall pick was UCLA legend Lew Alcindor. The rookie signed a 5 year, $1.4 million deal with the Bucks rather than taking more than double that to join the ABA, and he immediately made his stamp in Milwaukee. Alcindor averaged 28.8 points and 14.5 rebounds as a rookie, easily winning Rookie of the Year. Many fans bet on the Milwaukee Bucks to win it in Alcindor’s first season, but after knocking off the 76ers, Milwaukee fell short against the Knicks.
Not content with just contending, the Milwaukee Bucks odds changed from solid playoff team to favorites when they traded for Cincinnati Royals star Oscar Robertson. The Bucks tore through the NBA, winning 20 straight games en route to a 66-16 record, which still stands as the best in team history. The Bucks, now in the Western Conference, hammered both the Warriors and Lakers in five games to make the 1971 NBA Finals. Most fans bet on the Milwaukee Bucks to make quick work of the Baltimore Bullets in the Finals, and they did, sweeping the series without any game finishing closer than 8 points. Alcindor was named the Finals MVP, to go with his league MVP. The day after winning the title Alcindor changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Bucks kept rolling through the early 1970’s winning 63 games in 1971-72 as Abdul-Jabbar was named MVP. Many people bet on the Bucks to win back-to-back titles but they fell to the Lakers in the conference finals. In 1972-72, the Milwaukee Bucks odds were still that of a title contender, but they were shocked in the first round of the playoffs by the Golden State Warriors.
The 1973-74 Bucks won 59 games during another great regular season that saw Abdul-Jabbar win his second NBA MVP. After losing only one game in playoff matchups with the Lakers and Bulls, the Celtics played a classic NBA Final series with the Celtics. Abdul-Jabbar hit one of the most famous shots in playoff history, the sky hook, in Game 6 during a double overtime win, but the Bucks fell in Game 7 by 15 points.
If you were going to bet on the Milwaukee Bucks not making it back to the NBA Finals for the next 46-plus years, you would have gotten long odds, but they have not been back to the Finals since 1974. After the Bucks missed the 1975 playoffs during a season that Kareem struggled with injuries, he demanded to be traded, and the Bucks dealt him to the Lakers.
The post-Kareem era saw the Bucks as competitive but not contenders, as they made the playoffs in both 1976 and 1978 before falling in the deciding games of the first round.
Led by players like Marques Johnson and Sidney Moncrief the Bucks managed to make every postseason during the entire decade of the 1980’s. After losing to Seattle in the 1980 playoffs, the Bucks would finally switch to the Eastern conference for the 1980-81 season The Bucks lost in the conference finals in 1983 and 1984, both seasons where Sidney Moncrief was named Defensive Player of the Year. All told, they were knocked out of the playoffs by the 76ers or Celtics in each of their first seven seasons in the East.
Ultimately, if you had bet on the Milwaukee Bucks to make the playoffs every season from 1980 through 1991 you would have won, but then had you bet on the Milwaukee Bucks to miss the playoffs every season from 1992 through 1998, you also would have won every bet. The Bucks swung back to being a playoff team in 1999 and 2000 where they were disposed of by the Indiana Pacers in the first round. In 2001, a Bucks team led by Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson, and Sam Cassell, made it all the way to Game 7 of the conference finals before losing to Allen Iverson and the 76ers.
The Milwaukee Bucks odds of losing nine straight playoff series had to be extremely slim but that’s exactly what the Bucks did starting with their 2001 playoff loss. Eight first season exits followed from 2002 through 2018. What ended that streak, and changed the Milwaukee Bucks odds forever, was their drafting of Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013. The young Greek player started slow, but by 2018 was one of the biggest stars in the NBA. Giannis and the Bucks finally snapped the first-round exit streak in 2019, knocking off the Pistons and Celtics before losing to the eventual champions, the Raptors in six games. Antetokounmpo was named MVP after the 2019 season and followed it up with a second straight MVP campaign, as the Bucks were a league-best 56-17 in the 2019-20 season. Unfortunately, the Bucks struggled playing in the Orlando playoff bubble and fell to the Heat in the second round.
The team was able to put it all together in 2020-21, as the Bucks earned the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs but won a Game 7 on the road at No. 2 Brooklyn in the second round and then defeated the Atlanta Hawks in six games to reach the NBA Finals. After losing Games 1 and 2 of the Finals in Phoenix, the Bucks rattled off four-straight wins to capture their second NBA title in a 105-98 win over the Suns in Game 6 on the Bucks' home floor. Antetokounmpo was named the NBA Finals MVP.
Championships: 2 (1971, 2021)
1: Oscar Robertson
2: Junior Bridgeman
4: Sidney Moncrief
8: Marques Johnson
10: Bob Dandridge
14: Joe McGlocklin
16: Bob Lanier
32: Brian Winters
33: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar