Despite some recent struggles, the Bucks are still in better shape than most in the race for one of the East's final three playoff spots. And let's watch Khris Middleton's buzzer beater again in the Clip of the Week.
As the Bucks have struggled recently, much has been made of the team possibly sliding into a lower playoff spot or even out of the playoffs completely. There is certainly no denying the Bucks recent struggles, but an in-depth look at the remaining schedule for each Eastern Conference team in playoff contention reveals that falling out of the playoffs may be harder than it looks.
A simple look at the standings shows the Bucks have a nice-sized lead over the Heat, which only gets larger when factoring in the Bucks’ season sweep this season. The sweep gives the Bucks the tiebreaker, which means the Heat can’t just catch Milwaukee. They would need to surpass them.
The Bucks also have a four-and-a-half game lead over the Boston Celtics, which should make it quite difficult for the Celtics (or teams lower than the Celtics) to catch them with less than a month remaining on the schedule. Speaking of the schedule, let’s take a closer look at the games on the docket for each team.
|Team||Opponent Winning %||Home/Away||Games vs. Playoff Teams||Games vs. Western Conference||Games vs. Teams on this list|
A quick look at the schedule, like the standings, shows the Bucks are in a favorable position the rest of this season. Among teams in the mix for the final three spots in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Bucks have the second easiest schedule. With Golden State and Atlanta up next for the Bucks, the path gets even easier once the calendar turns to April, when the opponent’s winning percentage drops all the way down to .412.
The Bucks will also play a majority of games in Milwaukee down the stretch, which is favorable as the Bucks have been 21-14 at home, but just 15-22 on the road.
Though it may be more favorable for the Bucks to play at home or against a team lower in the standings, it ultimately comes down to winning basketball games down the stretch. We’ll see if the Bucks can do that in the season’s final month.
What to Read
Q&A with Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton: On Impending Free Agency, Cereal, and More – Grantland’s Zach Lowe talked with Khris Middleton about his ever-increasing popularity around the league, how the Bucks found out about the BK-MCW trade, and the importance of Lucky Charms.
Bucks slowly deteriorating with late-season swoon – NBA.com’s Steve Aschburner took a look at the Bucks’ struggles since the All-Star Break and suggests that the BK-MCW trade sent a message to the Bucks roster. And that message is not a particularly good one.
As depleted bench struggles, Bucks’ losses mount – At Brew Hoop, Aron Yohannes wrote about the significant struggles of the Bucks bench in the last few weeks and posits that the struggles might not come to an end any time soon.
Clip of the Week
I mean, what else could it really be? Bayless Jumping. Zaza Saving. Middleton Shooting. Johnny Mac Screaming. Bucks Winning.
Week in Review
Friday – The Bucks losing streak continued on Friday with a tough 129-127 triple overtime loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Four Bucks starters scored over 20 points on the night, but the night’s most impressive stat line came from Zaza Pachulia with 22 points, 21 rebounds, and seven assists.
Sunday – For three quarters, the Bucks kept it close with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but LeBron James was just too much down the stretch as Milwaukee eventually fell 108-90. The Cavaliers outscored the Bucks by 16 points in the fourth quarter.
Tuesday – After losing six straight games, the Bucks picked up a 89-88 victory over the Miami Heat with one of the craziest finishes of the season. A 15-0 run propelled the Bucks back into the game late, but some late-game heroics were still needed and Khris Middleton was once again ready to hit the big shot.
Thursday – While everyone was watching the Badgers Sweet 16 game, the Bucks were busy beating the Indiana Pacers 111-107. Ersan Ilyasova led the way for the Bucks with 34 points on 12 of 14 shooting, including hitting five of his six three point attempts.
Next Week’s Preview
Saturday – The weekend may not be kind to the Bucks as they take on the league’s best team, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are not just the best team in the league right now; they’re putting up numbers on par with some of the greatest teams ever. Plus: Saturday is ’90s Night at the BMOHBC, and Naughty By Nature will perform at halftime.
Monday – Things get just a little easier after taking on the Warriors as the Bucks will travel to Atlanta to take on the Eastern Conference’s best team. The Bucks will try to match their first trip to Atlanta when they beat the Hawks by 30 on Dec. 26.
Wednesday – The Bucks welcome the Chicago Bulls to town and attempt to get a win in the fourth and final game of this season’s I-94 series.
Stats of the Week
117.7 – Zaza Pachulia’s Offensive Rating in the last week is 117.7. That is also very good. (via NBA Stats)
78.3 – Jerryd Bayless has recorded an offensive Rating of 78.3. That, along with the rest of the Bucks bench, is not very good. (via NBA Stats)
Quick Bucks is Milwaukee Magazine‘s weekly roundup of all things Milwaukee Bucks written by Eric Nehm. You can yell at Eric or calmly tell him about something weirder than this wax statue at the Bucks practice facility on Twitter @eric_nehm. (It fooled Eric the first time he saw it.)