Brace yourselves. Things are about to get pretty crazy in the next few weeks for the Bucks.
As if the team has not had enough trouble already dealing with injuries and a road-heavy schedule to start the year, things are not about to get any easier. Lets break it down real quick.
Must Win Games:
2/15 vs. New Orleans, 2/19 @ New Jersey, 2/28 vs. Washington
Why are these must win games? Well, beside from the fact they are all basement dwellers that the Bucks SHOULD beat, these are the only sub .500 teams that Milwaukee will play in the next 13 games. Because in those thirteen games the Bucks have 10 againstEastern Conference Playoff teams.
ORL (6th): Home-2/11, 2/20 Away- 2/17, 3/03 (4 games!!!)
MIA: (2nd): Home-2/13
CHI: (1st): Home-3/07 Away- 2/22
BOS: (7th): Away-2/29 (leap year!)
ATL: (4th): Away-3/02
PHI: (3rd) Home-3/05
The only Eastern playoff team that we don't see during this stretch is Indiana, but that is about as daunting as you can make it. Personally, I am most worried about the 4 games against Orlando. I have no idea how the Bucks plan to stop Dwight Howard. Drew Gooden has lucked out and only faced two good centers since Bogut got hurt (Bynum, Monroe), but there is no way in the world he can match up at all against the Orlando center...4 times! Our best hope? He gets traded after this weekend to someone that we don't have to play the rest of the year.
There are two bits of good news that we can take away from this schedule:
A. March is just as easy as February is insanely difficult. 11 of the 15 games immediately following the crazy-hard stretch are against teams that are currently under .500 (although 2 of those 11 are against the surging Jeremy Lin-led Knicks). So if we can somehow make it through the first stretch alive, than the rest of the way will be smooth sailing.
B. The entirety of this evil, evil string of games takes place before the March 15th trade deadline. If we end up going 3-10 in this stretch we'll be able to begin the overhaul process, play our rookies, and hopefully get lucky and end up with a top 7-8 lottery pick. Contrastingly, if they somehow end up winning 7 of these 13 games and are in the thick of things during the final run, then they will still have time to make a crucial move, or two, to help them compete and maybe luck out with a first-round matchup that they can handle.
It is clear that this isn't a roster that is going to compete for a championship anytime soon, but winning makes a difference. Winning brings in revenue, winning brings in national media, and winning makes you look attractive to Free Agents. I think our ceiling is a graceful second-round exit in 6-7 games. Our low is probably only as bad as 7th or 8th worst in the league. There are just too many stinkers out there. Meaning another year of mediocrity and frustration.