The only time he made the playoffs, Monta Ellis barely made the playoffs.
His team (they weren’t yet “his team”) carried a negative overall scoring differential into the postseason. That means they didn’t score as many points as their opponents in the regular season. It was 2007, and he traveled to Texas where a loud crowd, Dirk Nowitzki, 67 wins, and the Mavericks waited.
No team has won 67 regular season games since then. To put that into perspective, that includes the Heat this season. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, they only added a couple more wins in the playoffs. Ellis and the Warriors shocked them out of the playoffs with a basketball country in their corner. They closed out Game 6 and the series by a line of 111-86. Who remembers what happened to them in the second round?
If you are drawing them you are drawing them, but this is not all about the parallels between the first time Ellis made the playoffs and the second time Ellis made the playoffs. Which happens to be this season. After all, that Warriors team from seven years ago entered the playoffs on a brilliant run: five straight wins, each one by 13+ points. This current Bucks team lost five straight before topping an apathetic Thunder team going into the postseason.
More, the tale of Ellis and the 2007 Warriors is somehow a story of triumph even if you are not a Warriors fan, a wild memory that feels like yesterday only if you wish yesterday was right now.
This is probably just the right opening for me to talk about the first or last time or maybe some times in between that current Bucks players made the playoffs.
Gustavo Ayon: As a rookie last season, Ayon played for the Hornets. They finished 4,000 games out of the playoffs. Technically, 15 games. If he had stayed with the Magic this season, he would have been even further away from the postseason.
Samuel Dalembert: How is this for an NBA playoff debut? 10 points, 18 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Despite a strong individual effort, Dalembert and his 76ers lost in five games to the Pistons in 2005. Three seasons later, the Pistons foiled him again. Dalembert led the 76ers to a 2-1 series lead with 22 points and 16 rebounds in Game 3, but the Pistons won three straight. The next season, his 76ers again took a 2-1 series lead but again lost three straight, this time to the Magic (who went on to the Finals).
Marquis Daniels: Daniels made the playoffs with the Mavericks in his first three pro seasons. And he made the Finals in 2006, but lost to the Heat. His first year away from Dallas was the same year that the Warriors shocked the top-seeded Mavericks in the first round. Last season, he played for the Celtics team that went up 3-2 on the Heat in the conference finals before falling. He has the most playoff experience on the team.
Mike Dunleavy: In 2011, Dunleavy made his debut with the Pacers. But against Derrick Rose and the top-seeded Bulls, it was short-lived (five games).
Monta Ellis: Mostly covered at the top. Six long years.
Drew Gooden: The same season that Ellis helped spring an upset with the Warriors over the Mavericks, Gooden started all 20 playoff games alongside LeBron James en route to the Finals with the Cavaliers. And though the team was swept by the Spurs in 2007, Gooden played well throughout the playoffs.
John Henson: Not yet, but gets a nice early start this weekend. And he goes into the playoffs on the heels of a 28-point, 16-rebound game.
Ersan Ilyasova: The lifelong Buck (well, in NBA terms anyway) has made the playoffs once in his career, back in 2010 as part of the Fear the Dear squad. The team lost in seven games, and this was before Ilyasova had really, really emerged.
Brandon Jennings: Jennings capped an eventful rookie season with a trip to the playoffs in 2010 against the Hawks. Much like his NBA regular season debut (a near triple-double), Jennings burst into the playoffs running with 34 points in a Game 1 loss in Atlanta. Still just 20 years old at the time, Jennings helped key three straight wins (including a nice Game 3) before the team ultimately succumbed in seven games.
Luc Mbah a Moute: The Prince was also a part of that 2010 crew with Ilyasova and Jennings. And that also marks his only playoff experience. Mbah a Moute averaged 12.9 points, 7.9 rebounds, and shot 52.0 % from the field in those seven games. Solid stuff.
Joel Przybilla: Twelve years ago, Przybilla made his NBA playoff debut. With the Bucks, of course. He checked in for two minutes – just like Rafer Alston and Mark Pope – in a Game 2 victory over the 76ers in the conference finals. It’s still difficult to write more about that series, but it is sort of fun to think that Pryzbilla was playing on a Bucks playoff team when John Henson was 11 years old.
J.J. Redick: Redick has guarded Kobe Bryant in the Finals, which is to say, he has a fair bit more high-stakes playoff experience than most. In 2009 Redick fell to the Lakers in the Finals, and in 2010 he fell to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. So he has been through the fire. Looking at the game logs from his playoff history, I am reminded that his 2010 Magic team swept the Hawks in the second round with wins by margins of 43, 14, 30, and 14 points. Crazy.
Larry Sanders: His NBA playoff debut is Sunday. Should be something.
Ish Smith: Fun fact: Monta Ellis isn’t the only one on the Bucks that played on a #8 seed that defeated a #1 seed in the first round of the playoffs. Smith played in five games on the 2011 Grizzlies team that toppled the mighty Spurs. Smith will be playing in the postseason for his third NBA team, should he actually play in the postseason.
Ekpe Udoh: This is it.
My passions? Writing and the Bucks, to start. So it is good to be here. I have reported on media row for just about every Bucks home game since 2009-10 – almost all of that time writing for BrewHoop. I have also written for the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, SB Nation, ESPN Milwaukee, Slam Online, etc. You can follow me on Twitter @alexboeder or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.