Milwaukee is 0-9 against its three potential playoff opponents.
The "potential playoff opponents" bit is a touch absurd in itself: The Bucks would be in 13th place in the West, 10.5 games out of the playoffs. Instead, they are in 9th place, 2.0 games out of the playoffs in the East. Three cheers for the concept of conferences.
And there is a sizable minority of Bucks fans who would prefer that the team miss out on the playoffs this season anyway. The three potential playoff opponents -- Bulls and Celtics (tied for first) and the Heat (2.5 back) -- have won every matchup with the Bucks this season. So there might be about as many fans (and "fans") of those teams hoping the Bucks make the playoffs as Bucks fans. Alas, Milwaukee is halfway to its longest win streak of the season... after two wins. So:
After the Cavaliers ceded the division in the offseason, the second-place Bucks were supposed to make a legitimate push to win the Central. Instead, the Bulls clinched the crown long ago. They are winning the division by 20 games. But this could make everything right. Plus, it's Illinois/Wisconsin.
The Bucks have lost all three games to Chicago this season. The Bulls have a great defense -- even better than Milwaukee's. And so it is little surprise that the Bucks are averaging 78.3 points in their three losses to Chicago. And the "Derrick Rose MVP" chants are grandly grating.
These two teams don't care for each other -- Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings both have histories of jawing with Kevin Garnett. And Milwaukee played one of its best losses of the year in the very first week of the season when they fell 105-102 in overtime in Boston. The team ran some sharp offensive sets, Andrew Bogut continued his fine offensive form against the Celtics, and the Bucks showed early on what they were capable of at nearly full strength. The competitive game also continued a trend of playing Boston tough going back to the previous season, when they beat the Celtics once and lost twice by a combined 11 points.
The Bucks most recently scored 56 points when they played the Celtics. Replaying that type of performance on national television for a week and a half is not advisable. And that game came just a week after losing to the Celtics at the Bradley Center, which wore a conspicuously Celtic green tint. The Bucks would have a home-court advantage at the BC in the playoffs of course, but not the type of advantage the Celtics would have in Boston. There was a time when it seemed like the Bucks always got up for the Celtics, that they matched up well with them. That time is not now.
The Bucks took the Heat to overtime in arguably the most exciting game at the Bradley Center this season -- and it is the only one I missed. And they managed that result sans Brandon Jennings. The Bucks were also severely depleted when they lost by 12 in Miami. While the chances are Miami will just crush it as they have the vast majority of the season, they have suffered a few cold streaks -- the Heat have lost three games in a row on three separate ocassions, which is pretty rare for an elite team.
They have lost all three games to Miami, and they would probably lose four more quickly. The Bradley Center would be the center of the basketball world for a few nights, but that might not be the best thing given the result.