How many games in a row have we been saying, "the Bucks have a chance to clinch tonight! Just need a win and a little help!" Well today the Bucks finally hold their own destiny in their hands alone. Win and they'll become the first team in 6 years to make the playoffs one year after having the NBA's worst record. Lose and...well, actually the story at the end of the day will be the same so long as one of Indiana or Boston goes down with 'em.
BUT WE AIN'T HERE FOR NO TECHNICALITIES. TAKE CARE OF BUSINESS, BUCKS. GET 'ER DONE.
Since we last saw our dastardly opponents in a triple-overtime thriller in Brooklyn, the Nets have won 9 of 12 games and charged back into the playoff picture. With Boston holding the tiebreak for the 7th seed, Brooklyn is grappling with the Indiana Pacers for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs, currently holding a one-game lead. Brooklyn also holds a critical tiebreaker over Indiana after taking two of three games from them this season.
Leading the charge for Brooklyn is Brook Lopez, who has been on an absolute tear dating back to that overtime matchup with Milwaukee. Lopez is averaging over 26 points per game on nearly 60% shooting. He's at the center of a Brooklyn offense that has simply been on fire over this stretch, with a cumulative offensive rating of 113.5. Lending Lopez a hand is a resurgent Deron Williams, suddenly playing his best ball in years. Since his lackluster performance against Milwaukee last go-around (4 pts, 5 ast), Williams has scored in double figures in 10 of 12 games and is averaging 8.9 assists while shooting over 50% from three.
Second-year wing Sergey Karasev was lost last month to a significant knee injury, while forward Mizra Teletovic was diagnosed with a lung disease back in January and is out for the season. The Nets will also be without Alan Anderson, who will miss his fifth straight game with an ankle injury.
Milwaukee's injury report remains clean save for Jabari Parker and Damien Inglis.
Recent scoring frenzy notwithstanding, the Nets have been a marginally below-average team in many of the key offensive and defensive factors. They're 17th in both eFG% and free throw rate, while they rank in the 20s in rebounding on both ends as well as opponent eFG% and turnover rate. If they have a strength, it's their ability to "defend" without fouling, ranking 7th in the NBA in opponent free throw rate. But it's fair to question whether not fouling is doing much to help, considering the Nets have paired that eye-popping 113.5 offensive rating with an less pristine 110.5 defensive rating.
SB Nation's partner for daily fantasy basketball, FanDuel.com, still has plenty of prizes to award over the final days of the season. Today you can try your hand in a $2 game featuring the 5 late games of the day with an $8000 top prize. Or try your hand with the early matchups, including Bucks-Nets, in a contest giving out $5000 in total prizes.
Looking for a Bucks player to use in your lineup? After Giannis Antetokounmpo's emphatic return to the starting lineup against New York, he looks primed to finish the season strong. And the Nets present a good opportunity to keep things rolling--Giannis' 17.7 per-game scoring average is his highest against any Eastern Conference team.
Note: Any opinions expressed in this post are solely my own. See FanDuel.com for details and official rules. FanDuel gave me some cash to play their daily fantasy games.
|2014/2015 NBA Season|
|April 12, 2015|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|Fox Sports Wisconsin | 105.7 FM The Fan / 1250 AM|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Deron Williams|
|Khris Middleton||SG||Markel Brown|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||SF||Joe Johnson|
|Ersan Ilyasova||PF||Thaddeus Young|
|Zaza Pachulia||C||Brook Lopez|
|2012/13 Advanced Stats|
|93.9 (13th)||Pace||92.7 (24th)|
|102.7 (26th)||ORtg||104.8 (18th)|
|102.6 (4th)||DRtg||107.5 (23rd)|