At this time last year, the Bucks were putting the finishing touches on the worst season in franchise history. Sure, the result of that record would yield them a top lottery pick, but that wasn't going to be enough to truly turn things around. It was a pretty low point for the team; most guys seemed to be playing uninspired, fans were electing to stay home instead of going to games (if they were still watching), and the buzz around the team just wasn't really there anymore. You could try and tell yourself that things couldn't get worse, but did you really believe that?
On the last day of the 2013-2014 regular season, that changed.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported that Herb Kohl, who had owned the Bucks for almost 30 years, would be selling the team to Marc Lasry and Wes Edens for $550 million. It was the game-changer, the shot in the arm that the franchise desperately needed. There was new blood in charge of a new era in Bucks basketball. Everything felt alive again.
From there the Bucks continued to add pieces to their puzzle on several different levels. They added several more investors, a franchise talent in Jabari Parker, and a head coach in Jason Kidd that appears to be capable of bringing this team to heights they haven't seen since 2001. Oh, they've also put a decent size dent in arena negotiations (both fiscally and conceptually) and revealed a new look for the team starting next season.
Also, they host the Boston Celtics tonight for a chance to finish at 42-40, their first winning record since the 2009-2010 season. They will either improve on last year's win total by 26 or 27 games, and they are comfortably sitting in the sixth slot in the Eastern Conference with an okay chance at a first-round upset.
All of this (and so much more!) has happened in just one year, and this was just supposed to be the beginning stages of the rebuild. Regardless of how tonight's game goes, I think it's safe to say that the Bucks have been real winners this season.
Boston is also back in the playoffs, wrapping up the seventh seed last night with a late, come from behind win over the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics winning didn't affect the Bucks per se, but Toronto losing did. The Raptors now sit a full game behind the Chicago Bulls in the race for the third seed in the East with one game left. Should Chicago win, they'll play the Bucks in the first round -- which isn't ideal for most Bucks fans, given the Bulls' track record of invading the BMOHBC. But, should the Bulls lose to the Atlanta Hawks and the Raptors defeat the Charlotte Hornets tonight, then Milwaukee will face Toronto. So...go Toronto, right?
Like the Bucks, the Celtics are set in their seeding, awaiting a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round. After a hard-earned victory last night, Celtics coach Brad Stevens suggested that he may give a few of his players a break tonight, per Celtics Blog.
"With that in mind, Stevens didn't exactly rule out the possibility of players resting Wednesday against Milwaukee, though he says it's for rest, not for playoff seeding.
"There are a couple [of players who could rest], and we'll talk about it tomorrow," Stevens said. "Hopefully these guys feel pretty good right now as it is, but with the back-to-back and then knowing that we're going to play our first game this weekend, we'll manage [the rest against Milwaukee] tomorrow appropriately."
Should Stevens rest a few of his key players, that would make the Bucks' chances of locking down a winning record greater. That is, unless Milwaukee also rests some key players. Charles Gardner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported a few days ago that Jason Kidd said some players minutes will be reduced leading up to the playoffs, specifically Jared Dudley (rest), who did not travel with the team to Philly on Monday. As usual, we shall see.
Avery Bradley (left quad contusion) is out for tonight's game for Boston. Other than a possibly resting Dudley and the season-ending injury guys, the Bucks injury report is clean.
Key Matchup: Bulls-Hawks vs. Raptors-Hornets
Obviously the real key to the game is continued consistency from the Bucks across the board, but let's not kid ourselves, here. Most of us will have one eye on the Bucks game and the other on these results. So why not make this the key matchup?
|2014/15 NBA Season|
|April 15, 2015|
|BMO Harris Bradley Center | Milwaukee, WI|
|FS Wisconsin (Alternate) | 105.7 FM The Fan/1250 AM|
|Michael Carter-Williams||PG||Isaiah Thomas|
|Khris Middleton||SG||Marcus Smart|
|Giannis Antetokounmpo||SF||Evan Turner|
|Ersan Ilyasova||PF||Brandon Bass|
|Zaza Pachulia||C||Tyler Zeller|
|2014/15 Advanced Stats|
|100.5 (25th)||ORtg||101.7 (20th)|
|99.2 (2nd)||DRtg||102.1 (t-13th)|