Bucks talk season expectations, EuroBasket at media day

Bucks Fiserv Forum Winter Generic 4
Fiserv Forum, home of the Milwaukee Bucks, on Feb. 26, 2022. WISC-TV/Channel3000.

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Basketball season is right around the corner, and the Milwaukee Bucks are ready to make another run for the NBA Championship.

The Bucks held Media Day on Sunday, as they prepare for the season opener. Much of last year’s team is returning this season. That, of course, includes franchise face Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“It’s nice to have the same people,” Antetokounmpo said. “People who you’ve won a championship with.”

The Greek Freak spoke about his desire to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Wisconsin. The Bucks fell short in their title defense last year, losing out to the Boston Celtics in the Conference Semifinals.

“I kind of got jealous of [2022 Champions] Golden State, seeing them in the parade and at the ESPYs,” Antetokounmpo said. “You know that feeling now, you know what is getting stripped away from you.”

Part of what gave Boston the edge over Milwaukee in last year’s playoffs was the Celtics’ ability to limit center Bobby Portis, something Portis said he was determined not to let happen again.

“That series was what I needed to take the next step in my career,” he said. “That really woke me up a little bit and made me go back to the drawing board.”

Celtics head coach Ime Udoka was suspended for the upcoming season last week after it was revealed that he was involved in an improper relationship with a Celtics staff member. However, even with Udoka gone, the Bucks’ road to another title will not get any easier.

“Even your younger teams like Detroit and [Indianapolis] have some great pieces,” Khris Middleton said. “From top to bottom, the East is really tough.”

While many of the Bucks are returning to the court after a restful offseason, a few players including Antetokounmpo and Sandro Mamukelashvili spent that time playing in Europe for the European Basketball Championship tournament, held once every four years.

“It was a great experience,” Antetokounmpo said. “It was the first time that I saw people were engaged. People had hope that basketball would come back to Greece.”

The Bucks have had a rather quiet offseason, though they did sign two free agents. Joe Ingles, who was a force with the Utah Jazz, signed in July, and former Duke center Marques Bolden joined the team on Sunday.

“Throughout the whole process, deciding with my wife and children, it was pretty clear we just kept coming back to these guys,” Ingles said. “It was pretty obvious at the end of the day that we were going to choose to come here.”

While the regular season doesn’t start until the end of October, the Bucks will return to the court next weekend. The first preseason game is scheduled for October 1 against the Memphis Grizzlies at Fiserv Forum.

RELATED: Bucks release preseason schedule featuring games in Abu Dhabi

The Bucks will spend part of the preseason in Abu Dhabi, taking part in the first NBA games played in the United Arab Emirates. They will return to the U.S. on October 11 for a game in Chicago against the Bulls before wrapping up the preseason at Fiserv Forum on October 12 against the Nets.

The regular season begins on October 20 in Philadelphia. The first home game is scheduled for October 22 against the Houston Rockets.