For the Bucks, the approach to the first round of the playoffs should start with some simple steps:
(1) Get the most beatable opponent possible
(2) Dispose of them in four games, five tops
(3) Set up plenty of rest for Giannis, Khris Middleton, and everyone else.
(4) Watch your potential second-round opponents hopefully beat the snot out of each other.
So who is Milwaukee’s ideal first-round opponent? Let’s break it down.
The list consists of every team other than the Celtics, 76ers and Cavs, all of whom seem destined to join the Bucks in the top four. Here’s a list of the other pretenders and contenders, starting with the most desirable opponent, then shifting to the tougher match-ups.
Bucks Round 1 Opponents: Top Choices
1 Washington Wizards (Season Series: 1-1)
The normally bottom-feeding Wizards might be first found playoff fodder this year, assuming they can make and survive the play-in tournament.
Don’t let the tie in the season series fool you. Washington’s win happened with Giannis out of the lineup, and the Wizards don’t play anything close to playoff defense. There’s always the chance that Bradley Beal will go off, but this series would be a cruise.
2 Atlanta Hawks (Season Series: 1-1)
High chaos factor here. The Hawks just fired Nate MacMillan, who spent most of the season at odds with Trae Young. Young and Dejounte Murray have struggled together, so Atlanta has a lot to figure out. Old friend Joe Prunty surfaces as an interim coach with plenty on his plate. Feels like a sweep waiting to happen.
Bucks Round 1 Opponents: Second Tier
3 Toronto Raptors (Season Series: 2-0 Bucks)
Toronto plays sticky playoff defense, and Nick Nurse is an inventive coach. Both Bucks wins have been close, so this series could be a slog.
But the Raptors are currently under .500, and they reportedly offered half their roster at the trade deadline. They don’t have a lot of firepower, though, so they land in this tier.
4 New York Knicks (Season Series: 3-0 Bucks)
The Knicks have some firepower, especially when Julius Randle gets going. If Tom Thibodeaux can squeeze some playoff defense out of them, they’ll be dangerous.
Dangerous, but beatable. The Knicks are still a poster team for mental errors down the stretch, so this one smells like a five-gamer.
Bucks Round 1 Opponents: Possible Tough Out
5 Brooklyn Nets (Season Series: 1-1)
Despite jettisoning Kyrie and KD, the Nets still make the list as a Team No One Wants to Play. The star power may be gone, but newly paid coach Jacques Vaughn has them hanging tough and playing hard.
6 Miami Heat (Season Series: 2-2)
Speaking of a Team No One Wants to Play, how about the Heat? Think Jimmy Butler in the playoffs. Bam Adebayo anchoring a tough defense. Tyler Herro going off in a starting role. Eric Spoelstra finding a way to get more out of his role players, including newly-signed free agent toy Kevin Love.
That’s a lot of X factors, and the Heat could actually end up in the top four. If they don’t, expect a lot of jockeying for position to avoid them in the first round, despite the recent Bucks route.
Dishonorable Mention: Bulls, Pacers
Dishonorable Mention: Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers
The Bulls and Pacers have been wallowing for a while, and Chicago especially has a questionable makeup. If either team gets into and through the play-in round, expect a lot of jockeying for position to get them in the first round.
These two should have “Sweep” attached to their nicknames at this point, and if both teams get in, the NBA should rename the play-in round “The Deplorables: An ESPN/TNT Mini-Series.”
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When Was the Last Time Milwaukee Bucks Won a Championship?
The Milwaukee Bucks’ latest NBA Championship was captured in 2021. Giannis Antetokounmpo was dubbed MVP, averaging 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.8 blocks per game.
Who Owns the Milwaukee Bucks?
The Milwaukee Bucks are owned by a group of 20 investors. Major investors include Marc Lasry, Wes Edens, Jamie Dinan and Mike Fascitelli. Minority owners range from quarterback Aaron Rodgers to Gale Klappa, Executive Chairman of Wisconsin Energy Corporation.
How Many Championships Do the Milwaukee Bucks Have?
The Milwaukee Bucks have won two NBA Championships. The first came in 1971 under head coach Larry Costello. The latest came in 2021 under head coach Mike Budenholder.
Will the Milwaukee Bucks win the NBA Championship in 2023?
With another MVP-caliber season from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks continue to lead the Eastern Conference Central Division. Kris Middleton is getting healthy and Brook Lopez is having a career year – signaling the Milwaukee will make another run at the championship in 2023.
Who Is the Greek Freak?
Giannis Antetokounmpo is the Greek Freak. He was given the name based on his home country, Greece, plus his freakish size and athleticism for an NBA power forward.