The Milwaukee Bucks currently sit as the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference just one game ahead of the No. 7 Heat. With two games remaining in the NBA season, the Bucks are locked into a playoff spot. The only question is — where?
The Bucks, Heat and Wizards are all within 1.5 games of each other, jockeying for position in the six through eight seeds of the Eastern Conference. Despite such a close race, Milwaukee is locked into a six or seven seed because of tiebreakers with the Wizards.
Milwaukee’s path to the playoffs has been filled with twists and turns, from star guard Giannis Antetokounmpo being in the early MVP conversation to head coach Jason Kidd being fired midseason.
At the time, Kidd’s January firing seemed to ignite a spark with the team as the Bucks went 7–1 in the first eight games under interim head Coach Joe Prunty. This was short lived — the team has gone 15–14 since their eight-game hot stretch.
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If the Bucks remain at No. 6, they will face off against the Philadelphia 76ers in a first round matchup versus a fellow up and coming team. The Sixers are the hottest team in the NBA right now and are currently on a 14-game win streak despite the loss of star center Joel Embiid to a facial fracture and concussion last week. If Embiid is back for round one the combination of him and projected Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons make Milwaukee’s chances look grim in this potential matchup.
The Boston Celtics have the No. 2 seed locked up in the playoffs. But after an injury to Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving there is a race for the seven seed at the bottom of the playoff standings. The Bucks would be fortunate to fall one spot in the standings and secure a matchup against an inexperienced team without their best player.
The final team the Bucks might play are the Cleveland Cavaliers who are currently at the No. 4 seed but can move up to No. 3. This could be a nightmare matchup for any team in the first round as they will have to go through LeBron James. Despite the Cavs well-documented struggles this year, James will still be vying for his eighth straight NBA Finals appearance and has proven he can escalate his team to another level come playoff time.
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Though Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe have been reliable options this year, the Bucks have taken steps back in other areas of the roster. Thon Maker, who looked like a future All-Star last year, now sits third in the depth chart behind John Henson and Tyler Zeller. Though he’s been impressive when healthy, last season’s Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon has been out the past two months with a quad injury before returning last night against Orlando.
But an interesting move the Bucks made recently was to giving Brandon Jennings a multiyear contract last week. Jennings is probably most famous for making the declaration “Bucks in six” in the 2013 NBA playoffs before facing — and ultimately getting swept by — the Miami Heat super team of James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.
Jennings was impressive to begin his second stint with the Bucks, notching a near triple-double with a 16-point, 12-assist and eight-rebound game versus the Grizzlies. But after this hot start, Jennings cooled down, scoring double digits in points only once in the 14 games following his debut.
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While some may remember the “Brandon Jennings and Bucks in Six” era as one of disappointment, there was also hope. And in a sports year where backup quarterbacks can become Superbowl MVPs, why can’t Brandon Jennings hit a big shot to help the Bucks win a playoff game or series? Maybe even in game six.
The Bucks last regular season game will be Wednesday, April 11 against the 76ers from Philadelphia at 7 p.m. CT.