(And one to avoid.)
Who Should Milwaukee Want to play?
For Milwaukee to seriously consider winning a championship, they have to get “right” heading into the postseason. The Bucks have a March 30th contest against Boston that could have the feel of a pre-playoff preview. As Milwaukee fights to secure the number one seed it is easy to look ahead to the playoffs. The Bucks play their last regular season game in less than 20 days in Toronto. (Their regular season home schedule wraps up on Friday April 7th against Memphis.) As it stands right now the Bucks are 51-20. With 11 games to go and a two game lead, the #1 seed is well within reach.
For the purposes of these match-ups, we’ll pretend like the Bucks are the #1 seed and would open against the worst team from the 7-10 play-in tournament. We’ll take a look at only possible first round match-ups. And we’ll look at a team the Bucks should not want to face in round one.
We’ve all seen this one before, right? A Bucks/Bulls round one match-up where the Bucks just hammer down on Chicago. Where the Bucks outrebound and outshoot a slower Chicago team? The Bulls might- might- just be able to sneak a game 3 or game 4 home win but even that feels like a stretch.
Milwaukee should want to play against the Bulls.
Chicago has played slightly better of late, beating a decent Sixer team at home in double overtime. But they did not really make any moves at the deadline. Plus they play slow and shoot poorly from 3.
The only possible downfall here is Chicago has been able to sneak out two wins this season from Milwaukee: Game 1 went to Chicago 118-113 and Game 2 went to Chicago again in overtime 119-113. So Chicago has been able to beat Milwaukee this year. However, Game 3 went right back to the Bucks 112-100 and Milwaukee simply hammered Chicago last year in the playoffs, winning a first round match-up 4-1. You would have to think this one would be a good playoff appetizer.
Related: Bucks vs Bulls Game Three Preview
As truly evidenced by the March 19th match-up, even when Fred VanVleet gets hot the Bucks can still beat the Raptors.
Toronto has been a much better team since the acquisition of Jakob Poeltl from the Spurs. He has given them a , well, worse version of what Brook Lopez gives the Bucks: a rim-protector in the middle who can score. In today’s NBA, you still do have to play defense once in a while.
Toronto has occasionally played well of late. (They are the best in the NBA at not turning over the ball. As a team they only give up 12 turnovers a game.) But against a stronger team like the Bucks, unless Milwaukee goes more than ice-cold from 3, this one looks like a 4-1 series written all over it!
Avoid the Indiana Pacers
For whatever reason the Pacers have played really well against the Bucks this season. TJ McConnell has had some lights out performances. Jordan Nwora and George Hill also seem to play well against their old team. Tyrese Halliburton is a very quick, dynamic player.
So why should Milwaukee want to avoid a team they have defeated twice this season? Because the game on March 16th provided some tea leaves that Indiana could have an outside shot of knocking off a better team. Giannis was ineffective for long stretches in that game and the Pacers did a nice job of withstanding a great first half from the Bucks. Sometimes Milwaukee turns the ball over and against Indiana those turnovers seem to happen at the worst time.
Myles Turner matches up real well against Milwaukee for some reason. He plays like a quicker Bobby Portis and a more agile Brook Lopez. He has put up multiple double doubles of late (Scored 30 already once against the Bucks) and is a block machine!
And again, the aforementioned TJ McConnell averages 23 points against the Bucks. To get that kind of production from a back-up PG is pretty impressive. Sometimes in sports you just have a guy’s number.
With the regular season ending April 9th the Bucks have a great shot against anyone. But against Toronto and Chicago it is easy to see a quick 4-0 or 4-1 series victory. Against Indiana it could go to a game 6 or game 7. But in any case, until the Bucks hit that second round against what appears to be a good Cavs team, we should continue to expect and see playoff success.
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