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Bucks vs. Knicks Preview: Milwaukee looking to lock down playoff spot

A win against the Knicks and a loss from either Boston, Brooklyn, or Indiana puts the Bucks in the playoffs. Will it happen tonight?

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Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The long national nightmare is over!

After roughly 36 hours of confusion and anguish, all is right with the world again. Bucks coach Jason Kidd told reporters this morning at shootaround that Giannis Antetokounmpo will start against the Knicks in New York tonight. But not before one one little joke, via Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Jason should open for Kevin Hart.

Anyways, now that this little...whatever is behind everyone, the Bucks can return their focus on securing a playoff berth. The simplest way the Bucks can begin that securing process is to win their games, so a date tonight with the league-worst, Carmelo-less Knicks comes at the perfect time. Should the Bucks win, a loss by either Brooklyn, Boston, or Indiana would clinch a playoff berth. So...go Washington, Cleveland, or Detroit, right?

Knicks Update

New York is in a similar to spot to where Milwaukee was last season. Four losses away from matching the Bucks 2013-2014 record of 15-67, Knicks fans are eagerly looking forward to the draft and summer ahead. If you don't believe me, please view the following tweet that was fanshot'ed over at the Knicks SB Nation blog Posting and Toasting, titled "[squealing, flapping arms wildly]"

In addition to prepping for the draft, Knicks President Phil Jackson told season ticket holders a week ago that he hoped to land "two or so starters" in the summer, according to Chris Herring of the Wall Street Journal. So it's pretty clear where their sights are set.

As for the team on the court, well...yeah, they're bad. They had lost nine in a row -- their third-longest losing streak this season -- before beating Philly on April 5th. They got "back on track" against the Pacers and fans are hoping for a strong finish to cement their place in the lottery. It's been a brutal season for first-year coach Derek Fisher and company, but it should be one that they can put behind them quickly and build from...maybe.

Injury Report

The Knicks' injury list is a bit lengthy. Cleanthony Early (ankle) is questionable, while Carmelo Anthony (knee), Jose Calderon (achilles), Alexey Shved (incomplete rib fracture), and Travis Wear (back) are all out. On Milwaukee's end, it's just the usual. Jabari Parker (knee) and Damien Inglis (ankle) are out.

Four Factors

The eye test is a serviceable form of measurement to tell that the Knicks are bad, and the stats back it up. They have the fourth-worst eFG% with the fourth-highest opponent eFG%. They have the third-worst FTA rate and give up the third-highest. To cap it all off, they have the fourth-highest opponent OREB%. These stats paired with all those injuries is the recipe for "success." It shouldn't be a shocker that the Knicks are where they are, and most of the fans wouldn't have it any other way.

Key Matchup

It will be interesting to see MCW go up against a pair of smaller, quicker guards in Shane Larkin and Langston Galloway. Though MCW is better than both, I'm curious to see if this is one of those nights where the post-ups are a featured part of the offense. Additionally, you could consider this a nice trial period against the quick guards before MCW will square off against either Kyle Lowry or Derrick Rose in the playoffs.

On top of that matchup, I also took to twitter to see what they thought would be a good thing to watch. Here were some of the responses.

Game Info

2014/2015 NBA Season
(38-40, 16-23 away)
(15-63, 10-29 home)
April 10, 2015
Madison Square Garden | New York City, NY
6:30 CT
Fox Sports Wisconsin | 105.7 FM  The Fan/ 1250 AM
Probable Starters
Michael Carter-Williams PG Shane Larkin
Khris Middleton SG Langston Galloway
Giannis Antetokounmpo SF Lance Thomas
Ersan Ilyasova PF Lou Amundson
Zaza Pachulia C Andrea Bargnani
2012/13 Advanced Stats
96.2 (14th) Pace 93.5 (28th)
100.5 (25th) ORtg 97.2 (29th)
99.9 (4th) DRtg 107.4 (28th)

On the Knicks/Links: Posting and Toasting | KnickerBlogger | Wall Street Journal| Bucks Game Notes | Knicks Game Notes