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NBA Neighborhood Watch: An Early Look at Possible Playoff Opponents

The Milwaukee Bucks are on track for a top-3 seed. Who might they match up against in April?

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Brew Hoop Neighborhood Watch. The NBA is a vibrant community, and while the Milwaukee Bucks are our preferred resident, we still want to be in touch with our neighbors around the league. After all, that’s what good neighbors are for. Today, we look way ahead of where we are today and visit some potential Eastern Conference matchups for the postseason.

Current Bucks Rankings

Record: 22-10 (2nd in East)
Pythagorean Record: 24-8
Offensive Rating: 113.5 (4th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 105.3 (4th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: 0.06 (13th in NBA)

Charlotte HornetsAt The Hive

Record: 16-15 (6th in East)
Pythagorean Record: 18-13
Offensive Rating: 112.4 (9th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 109.9 (16th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: –1.11 (28th in NBA)

As a franchise, Charlotte carries echoes of the pre-Giannis Milwaukee Bucks: they’re good (but not that good), and there’s some debate as to whether they should stay the course or tear it all down.

Trying to make sense of just how good or bad this team is difficult when looked at as a whole. It seems that every compliment about this team can be nullified with a complaint, and it speaks to why this team is muddling around .500. As I’ve watched this team from a purely fan perspective for the first time in five years, the only solace I can take is that when things turn for the worse, I can simply turn the TV off.

Kemba Walker has been mired in a shooting slump on par with Khris Middleton’s...which makes it all that much worse for Charlotte because Kemba is their #1. Elsewhere, the team could use some upgrades in the front court, and there’s a few candidates that might be available via trade.

Detroit PistonsDetroit Bad Boys

Record: 15-15 (7th in East)
Pythagorean Record: 14-16
Offensive Rating: 107.5 (23rd in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 108.6 (11th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: –0.09 (15th in NBA)

Detroit had aspirations of a top-4 seed, but things haven’t exactly gone as planned.

After nabbing last season’s Coach of the Year in Dwane Casey, the Pistons are the Bucks’ matchup if seeding was decided today. Casey* stopped by DBB to share his experience working with Kevin Garnett, and how it relates to coaching Blake Griffin.

Look here, Griffin isn’t perfect, and I bet he’d be the first to nod his head in agreement. As a coach, we don’t mind mistakes, in fact, we encourage them. Basketball, after all, isn’t a game of perfect. What grinds my gears, though, is correcting the same mistake.

*not actually Dwane Casey

Elsewhere, nobody is really quite sure what to do with Reggie Jackson. One option, according to the rumors, just might be maligned 1st overall pick Markelle Fultz.

Miami HeatHot Hot Hoops

Record: 15-16 (8th in East)
Pythagorean Record: 15-16
Offensive Rating: 106.9 (25th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 107.5 (9th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: –0.71 (22nd in NBA)

The Bucks just got SEGABABA’d by the scorching hot Heat (winners of four in a row!), who have been doing it with Goran Dragic sidelined with an injury and Dion Waiters still on the mend from his own. Their recent performance may indicate that things are being passed to the youths sooner than expected.

The next stage in the evolution of Justise Winslow, Bam Adebayo, et al lies in shutting down other team’s elite starters, such as Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, instead of the bench players the rotation players faced in putting up their gaudy numbers.

Much as a Hassan Whiteside and four munchkins lineup mimics the current small-ball blueprint, a ”Big Five” lineup of 6’6” and over players may present a path to beautiful basketball for the Heat in Miami going forward.

The Heat certainly can’t rely on their veterans forever, as Dwyane Wade continues his farewell tour by driving Miami towards the playoffs from the bench.

Orlando MagicOrlando Pinstriped Post

Record: 14-17 (9th in East)
Pythagorean Record: 11-20
Offensive Rating: 105.4 (27th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 109.6 (14th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: 0.08 (14th in NBA)

Orlando’s offense has been, well...

Part of the reason for their woes has been an inability to get to the free throw line. This all despite the fact that Nikola Vucevic can legitimately be mentioned in the same sentence as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Anthony Davis.

Elsewhere, Jonathan Isaac has been struggling with recurring injuries. Who better to dive into the nitty-gritty than the same doctor who worked on Steph Curry?

“He’s a young guy,” Ferkel said during a phone interview with Orlando Pinstriped Post. “There’s no reason something can’t be done to ultimately get him back on the court without recurring injuries. If he’s been out this many times, I would certainly be very concerned where he is at and what the long-term solution is to his problem would be. Not the short term solution because he is only 20. If something needs to be done surgically, should it be done now with the idea that he still has a long career ahead of him and not risk additional injuries? Or is it safe for him, assuming he does his rehab properly, to go back and play. That’s always the question.”

Brooklyn NetsNetsDaily

Record: 15-19 (10 in East)
Pythagorean Record: 16-18
Offensive Rating: 111.5 (12th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 112.3 (24th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: –1.01 (26th in NBA)

Don’t look now, but Brooklyn just went on a 7-game winning streak, falling to Indiana and leaving Kenny Atkinson $25,000 poorer. Spencer Dinwiddie is a big part of their success, and NBA executives are apparently enamored with his recent extension. And another name to watch? Rodions Kurucs.

Will he continue to start? Atkinson said Crabbe’s injury has had the near $20-million man on the shelf for longer than anticipated, but the team expects a return soon.

That leaves the tunnel wide open for Kurucs, who has already powered through like a 2-train pulling up on Flatbush Avenue. (Would’ve said R for Rodions, but that train sucks.)

“We’ll see,” Atkinson said regarding whether or not Kurucs has earned a permanent starting slot. “It seems like we have guys in and out, so it’s just kind of we’ll deal with it when we’re completely back healthy and deal with it when it comes. But I’ve really liked what I’ve seen so far. He gives us size. So you can play him on a 4, he can defend a 3, he can defend 2’s. So he gives us a little bit more defensive versatility.”

No matter what, Brooklyn fans are eager for Caris LeVert to return.

Washington WizardsBullets Forever

Record: 13-20 (11th in East)
Pythagorean Record: 12-21
Offensive Rating: 110.6 (16th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 114.9 (29th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: 0.80 (24th in NBA)

The Wizards have a ton of top-end talent with John Wall, Bradley Beal, and (apparently) Thomas Bryant, but they still needed three overtime periods to knock off the Phoenix Suns. But seriously, that Thomas Bryant game was absurd.

That being said, things are not all rosy in our nation’s capital. Markieff Morris is having a ton of difficulty on defense, and while there might be light at the end of the Wizards’ current tunnel, it’s hard to see it while John Wall remains on the roster.

Reality hurts, particularly when such a seismic shift occurs seemingly overnight. It hurts even more when it’s unexpected. The agony becomes that much more unbearable when the person facilitating the pain seemed incapable of doing so.

When someone like Wall begins waving the white flag, it’s time for a change. The Wizards can no longer ignore the signs and must quit lying to themselves before the tunnel becomes deeper and with less light at the end of it, because the player who once provided that light is no longer shining in Washington.

Of the six teams listed above, which one do you think presents the toughest challenge in a seven game series? Who do you want to avoid, or want to play to move on to the semi-finals? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for being a neighbor!


In the first round of the playoffs, I want the Milwaukee Bucks to avoid the...

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Charlotte Hornets
    (37 votes)
  • 9%
    Detroit Pistons
    (21 votes)
  • 58%
    Miami Heat
    (126 votes)
  • 3%
    Orlando Magic
    (7 votes)
  • 4%
    Brooklyn Nets
    (10 votes)
  • 7%
    Washington Wizards
    (16 votes)
217 votes total Vote Now