After missing their chance to clinch a postseason berth against the Pacers on Thursday night, the Bucks will try it again tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers as they wrap up a three-game road trip before heading home. Milwaukee can snag a playoff spot tonight with a victory and a fortuitous loss by either the Bulls, Pacers or Heat.
Bucks can clinch a playoff spot tonight with a win over 76ers and a loss by any of 3 teams: Bulls, Pacers and Heat.— cfgardner (@cf_gardner) April 8, 2017
Is it time to panic? It might be. It’s at least fingernail chewing time. This Bucks team has been in a mini downward spiral that has the opportunity to kill their season, but hopefully it doesn’t. Three games remain in the regular season and the Bucks have been booted from their fifth seeded position to No. 6 — one game behind Atlanta and just one game ahead of Chicago.
What needs to happen tonight in order to relieve the stress of Bucks fans? Well, it’d be nice for Khris Middleton to show up. He’s been pretty absent as of late, going back to the Sunday matinee game against Dallas. After tallying 25 points against the Pistons back on March 31, he’s only been shooting 36 percent from the floor. With Malcolm Brogdon continuing to be sidelined for today’s game, it’s crucial for K-Midd to show up for Milwaukee.
Turnovers also continue to be a plague for Milwaukee. Thursday’s game featured 21 gaffes which situated as an ongoing theme as of late, going back a few home games. Like the Bucks, the Sixers offer an interesting array of length — let’s just hope it doesn’t inflict too much confusion upon Milwaukee.
This will be the Bucks fourth and final time battling against the Sixers this season. They’ve fallen to them twice at home while their only victory against them came in Philadelphia with a 112-98 victory on March 6.
Similar to the Bucks, Philadelphia is also riding a losing streak — though theirs has gone on a tad longer than Milwaukee’s at five games. Injuries haven’t been too kind to this team, with the main one being Rookie of the Year candidate Joel Embiid, not to mention this year’s number one pick, Ben Simmons, yearlong absence. Backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez has missed the last six games with a strained left hamstring.
The man who is battling Brogdon for Rookie of the Year, Dario Saric, is also having eyes kept on him due to playing through plantar fasciitis in his left foot. T.J. McConnell was sidelined in a recent game against Chicago, though he would return.
Despite the injuries, the grittiness still remains for the Sixers. They can be a pesky pest of a team, and pesky teams always seem to show up against teams that are trying for a playoff spot. The Sixers don’t feature any prominent offensive showcases, as they’re barely in the top-25 team scoring in the league (24th at 102.5 per game) and definitively last in terms of offensive rating, though if you allow them to spread the floor, they can share the basketball and find open looks. Coming into tonight’s game, they’re ranked 8th in the league in terms of assists per game (23.9).
Should the Bucks win this game? Yes. Could they also lose it? Yes. Let’s just cross our fingers and hope for the best, and have the worry of not making the playoffs lifted off our chests.