Playoff time is almost here for the Milwaukee Bucks. With the impending defending championship run upon us, what are some answers to some of the many questions for the Bucks? And is it true what my old track coach used to say, “The future’s so bright you better wear shades!” Or was it, “opinions are like eyeballs…. everyone has one?” Something like that.
Let’s look at three big questions facing the Bucks and where we should go from here.
What Opponent Would Be Best?
As of 4.3.22, the Bucks vs Bulls looks to appear to be the impending match-up. That is great news!
It has turned out the Chicago Bulls have really faded so you’d have to think about them. (2-8 in their last ten and a not-so-stellar road record of 16-20.) The Bulls simply play no defense. They also struggle to rebound (28th in the league) and do not do well in many statistical “hustle” categories: loose balls per game (15th), deflections (21st), and bench points per game (29th). They seem to play to the level of their opponent, defeating routinely teams below .500 (27-8) and losing consistently to teams above .500 (15-22) Facing off against Chicago in round one would be good for the Bucks.
So would sneaking up into the second seed and facing off against play-in winner Toronto or Atlanta. (We’ll discuss this further in the “what would be best section”) Both of those teams have good guard play. And the Hawks are abysmal on the road (12-22) while the Raptors don’t seem to have much of a home-court advantage (17-16). Neither team seems to be NBA Championship caliber and it seems hard to see either team coming into the playoffs “hot”.
The worst opponent had been thought to be the 76er’s but now that Joel Embid is struggling health-wise that could be a huge advantage for Milwaukee. (Embiid, as you remember, has always struggled with foot issues coming out of Kansas.) Unlike Chicago, Philadelphia has proven to be an excellent road team. Plus Seth Curry has really proven to be a steady hand. Tobias Harris is a good player. But at the end of the day, the Bucks have split the season series with Philadelphia. The game on Tuesday, March 29th should be interesting to see where the two teams are at. Playing against the 76ers in round two seems like an eventuality.
What Seed Would be Best?
The second seed would be the best fit for the Bucks. There you’d most likely play either Charlotte or Atlanta. Both of those teams have been so up and down you’d expect a repeat of that in the playoffs. (Think 4-1 Bucks series win.) Of course, you want to be #1 but the Heat have proven to be very steady this year.
And to address the “Simmons in the room”, playing the Nets in round one is not the death sentence so many NBA pundits have it sorted out to be. Kyrie and Durant, together are a tough out. But that’s it. You just never know what else they will get? Will Lamarcua Alridge show up? Patty Mills? Is Nic Claxton dependable? The Nets will steal a game or two with dynamic games from Irving and Durant (Think 90 points between the two.) But that’s it. They haven’t had continuity or hustle all year. Seems strange that they will magically discover that in the playoffs.
Unless there is a catastrophic conclusion to this season the Bucks have avoided the one-and-done play-in game. That’s the primary goal for any NBA team looking to win it all. We have some other great analysis here on the playoff run here.
How does it all end?
Well, it’ll end with the Bucks going pretty far. That’s good.
And when it comes to predictions, go with Vegas I guess. They have the Nets, Warriors, and Suns ahead of the Bucks, odds-wise. And close behind are the Jazz and Heat.
Three of those teams (Warriors, Suns, and Jazz) are teams the Bucks don’t have to worry about, save for one.
My guess is it all ends with the Bucks losing in the NBA Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Or, it ends one step further with the Bucks losing to Phoenix or Utah in the NBA finals. But back to my old track coaches’ saying, “opinions are like butts, everyone has them.” Seems to be sage advice this time of year.