Heading into the playoffs last season, the Milwaukee Bucks were virtually underdogs in all games they played during their run to an unprecedented NBA Championship triumph - their first in 50 long years.
The Bucks were able to overcome the underdog mantra by sheer grit and determination with their resolve particularly in focus when star man Giannis got injured in the Eastern Conference Semi Finals.
Heading into a new season, the Bucks did lose one of their best players in P.J Tucker. However, they also acquired some pretty talented players in Grayson Allen and Semi Ojeleye who have steadily shown NBA level skills over the last couple of years.
The first game of the new season was ironically against a team they dramatically beat in the playoff semi-finals last year, and one of the bookmakers favorites for NBA title this year - The Brooklyn Nets. When you have a team with Kevin Durant and James Harden, not to mention Kyrie Irving (who has remained resolute in his stance not to get vaccinated), such a team becomes an instant favorite no matter the competition.
It was a test of readiness to see just how well this Milwaukee team would gel in the new season and whether they possibly could do the unprecedented by lifting another NBA Title. There were certain questions asked prior to the game about individual readiness and overall team mentality, and the performance readily answered their question.
The game ended in a blowout 127 - 104 in favour of the Bucks, winning in totally dominant fashion with the Nets not threatening their lead at any moment in the game. For me, it showed a new, improved mindset from the players who recognize that being champions, it isn't a case of 'nothing to lose', but all to play for.
They out-hustled, and overpowered a very skilled Nets team, making it look easy in the process. Some of the better takeaways from the game were a continuation of the top-level Perimeter defense play which the Bucks have become famous for, With new players being inculcated with the mindset.
Giannis was as dominant as always, netting up 32 points in the process. With no doubts about his abilities, what I did love seeing was the hunger from last seasons Playoffs MVP which is a clear sign of year another fantastic season for the Bucks should their star man maintain this level.
Furthermore, a lot can be said about 2nd year Jordan Nwora who nabbed 15 points and 6 rebouds yesterday, including a highlight reel block of Kevin Durant's putter. Nwora could prove a decent rotation player and is on course to be in contention for the Most improved player award this season.
The Bucks appear ready for another fantastic run this season. With an improved mindset and the core of their championship winning team retained, we might very well be in for something special if the first game of the regular season is anything to go by.