Tonight, the season we’ve all been wanting to end...ends. Well, at least before the playoffs start. Your Milwaukee Bucks will take the road and take on the Philadelphia 76ers in what would be an unlikely (but mathematically possible!) playoff series preview.
The three teams that matter for the Bucks’ playoff placement are the Miami Heat, the Washington Wizards, and themselves. There are a number of different scenarios at play (Eric and Frank break it down on Locked on Bucks), but the moral of the story is that the Bucks need to win if they want any hope of avoiding the 8 seed and/or retaining their 2018 first round pick.
Malcolm Brogdon returned from his quad injury on Monday, but the Bucks will still be without Matthew Dellavedova (ankle). The status of Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle) is also up in the air; he could miss his third straight game for rest, or he could play as the Bucks pursue the sixth seed and/or keeping their draft pick.
Player to Watch: Jabari Parker
With Giannis out and the regular season closing down, Jabari’s last chance to leave a positive impression is tonight. Eric and Frank had a frank (no pun intended) conversation about Parker’s body language and overall effort levels on the court the other day, and I hate to say that I agree with Eric’s observation that Jabari...simply doesn’t appear to actually want to be here right now. As a top draft pick who has a ton left to prove, particularly as he re-establishes himself as an elite scorer following his two knee injuries, Parker hasn’t played the part we’d expect. Perhaps a playoff series will make him flip the switch? Stay tuned...
The Sixers are duking it out with the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Eastern Conference’s third seed, and Philly could not be any hotter coming into tonight’s contest:
15 straight is pretty dang good, even if the list of opponents doesn’t exactly inspire shock and awe:
Still, it says something that the Sixers can capably beat the teams that they should beat. If only the same could be said of the Bucks...
Joel Embiid will miss this game, as well as the majority of the first round of the playoffs, with his orbital bone injury. Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot is doubtful to play with knee tendinitis, and Dario Saric is questionable after chipping a tooth against the Hawks last night.
Player to Watch: JJ Redick
With Embiid out and Simmons a possible healthy scratch, everyone’s favorite Duke player to hate will lead the charge for Philly’s pursuit of the 3 seed. The 33 year old sharpshooter is scoring a career-high 17.1 points per game on his customary ungodly levels of accuracy from behind the arc (42.0%) and at the free throw line (90.4%). Redick took a gamble by signing a one-year deal with the Sixers last summer, but that gamble looks to have paid off (in every sense of the word, it was a pricey contract) for all parties, and Redick will get another chance to cash in on his shooting prowess.