Milwaukee has the inside track to the seventh position in the Eastern Conference playoff standings if they are able to win out, starting with a win tonight against the Orlando Magic. The Bucks laid an egg against them just a few weeks ago, but the juice from their final regular season game ever in the BMO Harris Bradley Center can hopefully carry them to victory. Maybe a Giannis Antetokounmpo return might help too.
Milwaukee spent Saturday night in the Big Apple, playing around with a beleaguered Knicks squad that was missing practically half their team. The Bucks were also without Giannis Antetokounmpo, but it was somewhat embarrassing it took until late in the fourth quarter to cement a win against a team without Enes Kanter, Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. and many others. They managed to get it done though, with Eric Bledsoe posting yet another efficient night at 7-9 shooting to hit 22 points. Khris Middleton added 22 as well. Milwaukee last faced Orlando on March 14 when they fell 126-117 in the Magic’s building. It was an embarrassing loss for the Bucks, although Giannis tried his hardest by notching 38 points and taking Jonathan Isaac to task. Hopefully, Giannis can come back tonight and still dominate, even with the rookie not playing. Additionally, after being a game time decision against the Knicks, it appears Malcolm Brogdon will make his return tonight.
Player to Watch: Jabari Parker
Parker went 6-10 against the Magic last time, but should be free to terrorize Orlando with Aaron Gordon likely matching up against Giannis. When he’s matched up against Mario Hezonja, he should feel comfortable taking the former fifth overall pick to task either in the post or flying past him with his quick dribble moves.
Orlando is nearing the end of what is yet another lost season where they’re headed to the lottery dais. The top pick continues to elude them, although the newly installed front office regime likely hopes this will be the year their luck can change. They’re also fresh off a 112-101 loss against the Toronto Raptors yesterday evening. Last time out against Milwaukee, they were blazing hot from deep going 18-34 (52.9%) on the backs of Jonathon Simmons and D.J. Augustin. The Bucks need to lock Augustin down, as thankfully Simmons will be out tonight due to a right wrist contusion. The Magic aren’t taking any chances missing out on higher lottery odds.
Player to Watch: D.J. Augustin
Augustin absolutely lit the Bucks up last game, going off for 32 points on 9-15 shooting including 6-9 from deep. Eric Bledsoe couldn’t bottle him up at all, as Augustin also got to the free throw strip eight times that night. His proficiency kept Milwaukee at bay all evening, barely ever allowing them to gather momentum and killing it quickly when they did.