If ever there was such a thing as a perfect storm in the NBA, it feels like this final week of the pandemic-shortened season might be it for the Bucks.
As of this writing (Sunday morning, for those curious for a peek behind the editorial curtains) the Bucks sit 0.5 games back of Brooklyn and 3.5 games back of Philadelphia at the top of the East. Barring a complete and utter collapse by the Sixers with their four remaining games (at Indiana, at Miami, home and home against Orlando) the first seed is outside of our grasp. However, that 0.5 games between us and the Nets is readily gettable.
Brooklyn has four games to play this week (at Chicago, home for the Spurs, Bulls, and Cavs) compared to our jam-packed five (at Spurs, home for Orlando, at Indiana, home for Miami, at Chicago). That leaves us not only with a very real chance to nab the second seed and home-court advantage (for whatever it is worth this year) in any second-round matchup, but it also leaves us with a choice: Go all out in a sprint to finish the season or take our foot off the gas and let the starters get a little more rest.
Striking the balance between those options may shift on a day to day basis as the game results come in, but I’m fully in the at-all-costs camp of stacking the deck in our favor any way we can manage. Obviously, if someone needs a breather in pursuit of health there’s no need to play them, but so long as the second seed is in the air the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday should be suiting up. It isn’t a matter of pride I’m concerned with, but a matter of putting a team that is still figuring itself out into a more positive position. If a little discomfort now grants us an extra night at home in the future, the trade off would be worth it.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Milwaukee Bucks put Brooklyn Nets on notice (Yahoo)
The best (worst?) part about that mini series against the Nets is that we get to pretend that the results have any bearing on the future. It gives me the right to mock each of the six Nets there are on the planet that, as of this moment in the passing of the universe, the Bucks are the better team head-to-head. And then James Harden will show up in the post-season and we might well be hanging on for dear life for 48 minutes a night.
The Milwaukee Bucks should be Sixers fans’ biggest fear (Liberty Ballers)
I know nobody wants to do a devil’s gauntlet of Miami/Boston, Brooklyn, and Philly in order to get to the Finals, but there’s a very real chance that that is what awaits us! And that’s okay! Because either we’re good enough to outclass those teams across relatively spread-out series, or we’re not. So long as some Sixers fans remain worried about the possibility of playing us, I remain content even in the face of daunting odds.
Brook Lopez had the best reaction to being dunked on (SB Nation)
I like to believe Brook was simply re-living the reality that the Bucks gainfully employed Kenyon Martin Jr.’s father for half a season in the not-too-distant past. Hell of a run we had, these Bucks.
The NBA Play-in Is Becoming a Hot-Button Issue. But It’s Probably Not Going Anywhere. (The Ringer)
While I appreciate that it sucks for the seventh and eighth seeds to have to forgo their ceremonial role of getting immediately gutted by the first and second seeds, at the end of the day it is generally good that the league found a way to gin up a little drama. If things go according to plan (and all signs point to that being the case), this format may get tweaked and re-applied next season where a full schedule with better spacing between games will mean teams have more opportunities to stay healthy and push their way out of the play-in zone.
And if the Lakers lose two in a row and don’t even get into the playoffs? Well, that’s the prices of doing business.
FanPost of the Week
This poster just won’t quit, and so we have R983’s “Top 48 NBA Players (19-48 added)”. Player rankings are rarely definitive or always well-received (cough, The Ringer, cough), but like any wisdom-of-the-crowd exercise, if we aggregate rankings we’d probably get pretty close to a realistic assessment of player tiers. The one crime R983 committed? Christian Wood at only 46th in the league. If he’d had a chance to play in every game this season the Rockets would have at least one to two more wins to their name.
Know Your Enemy
Doozie this week with five opponents on the slate!
- San Antonio Spurs - Pounding the Rock - The Spurs’ play-in chances are still solid
It is a team like the Spurs who will benefit the most from the expanded play-in tournament. Instead of ignominiously coming a few games short of the eighth seed and feeling like the season was truly played for nothing, there’s a chance they sneak in and can at least play spoiler to some other disliked Western team. And that’s what sports is all about, right folks?
- Orlando Magic - Orlando Pinstriped Post - Ranking the Magic’s Young Players: OPP Edition
Another blog’s FanPost making the KYE list? Say it ain’t so! Well, given that the highlight of the past month for Orlando was somehow scoring 75 points in the year 2021, young player rankings is about all of interest left for fans.
- Indiana Pacers - Indy Cornrows - Who is not on the hot seat for the Pacers?
“...maybe Brogdon’s nickname of “The President” is more apt for his ability to play politics as opposed to actually lead.”
- Miami Heat - Hot Hot Hoops - Pivotal games in Boston are make-or-break moment for Heat
And so they went and got the first game against Boston. If they can seal the deal tomorrow night then the Heat are almost certainly going to avoid the play-in tourney.
- Chicago Bulls - Blog a Bull - If the Bulls were tanking, how could we tell?
In a season where it was nearly impossible to not be in either the play-in picture or tanking for top draft picks, the Chicago Bulls found a way to do neither. Respect.
The Social Media Section
The response to Giannis’ scoop on Tuesday has been incredible. Thanks to all for the kind words and thoughts. It has been overwhelming and humbling. I am not worthy. I will try to respond to all, but it will take some time. I can’t thank you enough.— Jim Paschke (@Paschketball) May 6, 2021
After 35 years of announcing @Bucks basketball, @Paschketball will be retiring at the end of the season. ❤️— Bally Sports Wisconsin (@BallySportWI) May 4, 2021
He sits down for a touching interview with @Giannis_An34. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/n44KoRObnX
Either Nash loves Sun Tzu, or we’re going to sweep them in the second round
Nash had some bold words after the lost to the bucks today pic.twitter.com/4TWePELUm0— (@ghostedjay) May 5, 2021
Red gatorade or nothing for me
Yep, me too
Riley’s 2020-2021 Prediction Record: 39-28
retired janitor’s 2020-2021 Prediction Record: 43-24
Like an 11th seed on the outside looking in, it’ll take a miracle for me to match or pass RJ. Also like an 11th seed on the outside looking in, we have to at least give it the ol’ college try.
Five games in seven days on the docket, starting tonight in San Antonio, home on Tuesday against the Magic, away in Indiana on Thursday, home Saturday to face Miami, and away in Chicago on Sunday. I’ll peg them for wins against the Magic, Pacers, and Bulls with losses to the Spurs and Heat.
Milwaukee, don’t do me wrong.