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Weekly NBA Game Thread: Week of Feb. 8th, 2021

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Inexplicably, Milwaukee is tantalizingly close to the East’s top seed

Brooklyn Nets v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

Every Monday at 5:00 PM Central this all-purpose thread goes up, and the comments section is where it’s going down. This is your place to discuss all the NBA’s action happening during the week when the Bucks are off-duty.


I have next to no clue when it comes to interpreting “statistical data” in the context of basketball (or generally, for that matter). A high 3P% for a player is a good thing, scoring fewer points that your opponent is a bad thing, and Pat Connaughton’s +18.8 net rating means he’s actually the best player on the team. These are the principles I adhere to and go no further than.

However, even a dolt like myself can read team records and standings. Having done so this morning, I note that the Bucks (15-8 as of publication) remain a mere 1.5 games behind the top-seeded Philadelphia 76ers (17-7 as of publication). Not bad for a Bucks team who swings wildly from very good to not having a clue what is happening on a quarter-by-quarter basis.

In this strange pandemic season with nearly no fans in attendance, I’m tempted to simply toss out the home/away records for each team as being indicative of future strength. That isn’t to say the Bucks/Sixers/any team at the top shouldn’t be dominant at home and decent away even without a crowd, but the value of those numbers is harder to discern.

Given all that, here are some curious record numbers courtesy of my good friends (and yours), ESPN:

What do we note upon first glance? That the Sixers have been slightly better against “good” opponents with a .500 or better record, both teams are about even against “bad” opponents, and interestingly, the Bucks have proven more adept at winning “close” games with a 10 point margin of victory. You could read the fact that Milwaukee has more experience there as a negative (Bucks aren’t beating teams at the same large margin Philadelphia is), but I tend to read it as valuable experience for a Bucks team used to routinely decimating teams before gumming up in games where the final five minutes of a game are in the balance.

Whether retaining the top seed will matter this season also remains in doubt. If vaccine rollouts grow apace, the NBA may be able to try and avoid another Bubble to conduct their playoffs. Even with smaller crowds, a playoff format that sees teams travel between two locations in a series would theoretically hand an advantage to those with home-court.

For now, I take it as a good sign that the Bucks are very seriously a work in progress, yet remain within striking distance of the very best in the conference.