OAKLAND -- The worst thing about processing the Milwaukee Bucks' 134-111 de-winging of the Golden State Warriors is that one is left wondering if Thursday night was just an outlier, or the creation of an actual nightmare scenario for the locals.
In other words, the Warriors may have finally found the team that doesn't avert its eyes in acknowledgement of the conventional wisdom and believes it has the players and system to be the better team when required. Or we may have merely witnessed a bad case of OOTN.
One Of Those Nights.
Not that those distinctions mean much to Steve Kerr, who described his team's play as laden with "mindless intent" and summarized it by saying, "We got beat every which way we could."
But to watch the Bucks dismantle Golden State with their length, ability to attack the basket and discombobulate anyone not named Klay Thompson was to imagine a summer that is not soaked in fait accompli. Milwaukee has never been an easy out for Golden State, but now the Bucks look like the team the Warriors would least like to face.
And it is here where we must remind you that Draymond Green was absent with a toe issue, and that some of Milwaukee's fearlessness was caused by that absence. Plus, Stephen Curry strained an adductor (groin) muscle and played only 26 minutes before leaving (MRI is set for Friday), so once again a Bucks-Warriors game was tinged by the absence of an important player on one side or the other.
But let's just say this: Friday's practice will be an interesting one.
Milwaukee's perimeter players – Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Malcolm Brogdon – were consistently bothersome to Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo dined spectacularly on all the Golden State big men, as one would expect; Kevon Looney, Damian Jones and Jordan Bell are simply ill-equipped at this stage of their development as pros to deal with him, and maybe at any stage of their development as pros.
But they all attacked the Golden State basket with a level of disregard for the Warriors' abilities and reputations. They crushed the Warriors on the boards. They made the Warriors foul, and call time outs, and look profoundly uninspired throughout the game.
The up side?
"When we scored the first five points of the third quarter and cut it eight, I thought we were getting it together," Kerr and said. "And then our next three possessions were a disaster."
Well, it was a hell of a 41 seconds, anyway.
More to the point, though, this was one of the worst comprehensive games the Warriors have played in the Kerr era, and the highest number of points they have allowed at home in nine years. They were bad through the lineup except for Klay Thompson, and they were overmatched at nearly every position.
So the question, again, is to be asked – is Milwaukee the realest deal the league can offer in rebuttal to another Warrior parade, or was this a night when the Warriors couldn't even be burdened to mail it in, as is occasionally their wont?
December 7 may help with that determination, when the two teams play at the new FiServ Center. Or it may take the Bucks to do their duty and outlast Toronto and/or Boston and reach the NBA Finals for the first time in 45 years.
But we do know this much. The Bucks are unforgiving and unafraid, younger and longer and not intimidated by the Warrior Mystique (patent 2015). What they do with this knowledge remains to be seen, but the glimpse they received and provided Thursday night was particularly instructive.