MILWAUKEE — I doubt that the Bucks owners shelled out the money for the Damian Lillard trade and fired Head Coach Mike Budenholzer to lose in the first round of the NBA playoffs.

That doesn’t even account for the millions spent to retain Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Not since the Bucks paired the then Lew Alcindor with Oscar Robertson in 1970 has a Bucks season brought these high expectations. For the record, those two superstars helped deliver the 1970-‘71 title to the Bucks in their first year together.

The goal this season is to win the NBA Championship. The Bucks did it in 2021 (ending a 50-year drought) and will be looking for their second title in four seasons.

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Yet, the season is more than a rubber stamp or formality. Other teams want the title too.

It could be that even with Giannis and Lillard, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez may be just as important. Can they still play at a high level? The Bucks are paying for them to do just that and stay healthy.

New head coach Adrian Griffin has gotten strong reviews from players in training camp. The departure of assistant coach Terry Stotts will be forgotten if Griffin wins.

The games against Jrue Holiday and the Boston Celtics will be appointment viewing. Nov. 22 in Boston, Jan. 11 in Milwaukee. Mar. 20 in Boston, and Apr. 9 in Milwaukee. Yes, I’ve already made notes on my calendar. If these teams don’t meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, injuries or something unexpected happened.

The long journey for the Bucks begins Thursday night at home against the Sixers.