While Milwaukee’s wrapped up its playoff spot and assured themselves no worse than the sixth seed after their win over Charlotte, they didn’t know their ultimate fate until late last night when the Hawks beat the aforementioned Hornets, locking Milwaukee into the six seed and set to face Toronto in the playoffs. For Boston though, a win would cement their spot as the number one overall seed in the Eastern Conference, and Milwaukee’s left Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tony Snell, Khris Middleton and Matthew Dellavedova at home for tonight’s affair.
An ugly rock fight with the Hornets went Milwaukee’s way due to some bounce back shooting from Jason Terry, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell, who went a combined 13-17 from deep en route to helping Giannis accomplish his third triple-double of the season with ten points, 11 rebounds and ten assists.
While it probably didn’t do much to encourage Bucks’ fans that their team is firing on all cylinders heading into the playoffs, seeing the Bucks’ struggling shooters catch fire from deep was an encouraging sign. Hopefully that carries forward into the playoffs, where teams will assuredly funnel their defenses towards forcing Giannis to give up the ball and let his teammates beat them.
With Atlanta’s win sealing Milwaukee’s fate, they seem to be punting this game Sam Cassell style into the ether. The official game notes list Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Tony Snell and Matthew Dellavedova as not with the team. For what it’s worth, those notes were available before the Hawks game had even started, so this was clearly scheduled regardless of whether their playoff fate remained in doubt.
Interestingly, Malcolm Brogdon is still listed as starting despite returning from injury Monday night. Perhaps the Bucks are hoping to give him more reps, and the extended layoff following Wednesday night’s regular season finale will hopefully be enough to ensure Brogdon’s at 100% or close to it. Charles Gardner reported last night that the Bucks did officially announce they kept many of their starters home:
Bucks confirm that Delly, Giannis, Khris Middleton and Tony Snell did not travel to Boston for Wed. season finale.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) April 12, 2017
After getting slaughtered 114-91 by the Cavaliers due to Lebron James’ gentle reminder that he’s the best player in the world, and dropping a game to the Hawks, the Celtics looked like the #1 seed would probably be out of reach. However, fortuitous collapses by the Cavaliers to the Hawks and Heat have Boston sitting in the driver’s seat for the Eastern Conference’s top spot. Should Boston win tonight, they’ll have home court throughout the playoffs.
Boston won their last two games against the Hornets and Nets, the latter of which was doubly sweet knowing they would soon be receiving their top spot on the lottery dais. What looked like it initially may have been a throwaway game for Boston has turned into one with grand stakes, so Milwaukee should see the Celtics’ go with an all hands on deck approach tonight to try and put this one out of reach early against the Bucks’ janitorial squad.
Isaiah Thomas will finish up what was statistically the most successful season of his career, and Boston will go into the offseason gunning for a deep postseason run while debating the merits of who to select with their guaranteed top-three selection. Not bad, eh?
Boston isn’t missing anyone due to injury tonight either.