The regular season, generally, doesn’t matter on the same scale as the playoffs. But there are certain games that, when you notice them coming up on the schedule, have a chance of being a special test for your team. Tonight, as the Milwaukee Bucks head to Colorado to challenge the Denver Nuggets, we have such an opportunity.
Where We’re At
The Bucks were the first team to top 50 wins and are currently the top overall record in the league this season. With single-digit games to go, the standings are still very much in flux, but Milwaukee can control its own destiny by...y’know, winning games. That result will allow the Bucks to maintain home court advantage in the postseason, up to and including the NBA Finals if they happen to have secured a better record than their opponent. That makes tonight’s matchup just a bit more interesting, considering Milwaukee and Denver are members of the “True Contender” club (along with Boston, Philly, and Memphis, depending on your criteria for membership).
So, from a pure conjecture standpoint with no discussion with Budenholzer...— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) March 24, 2023
If the team wanted to pair those two on this back-to-back like they have before, letting Ingles play his homecoming game in Utah instead of Saturday in Denver would make some logical sense to me.
Milwaukee sat Khris Middleton yesterday against Utah – presumably as a precautionary measure – but are expected to have him available tonight. Elsewhere, the Bucks may also be missing Jae Crowder, Meyers Leonard, and Goran Dragic, all of whom missed last night’s game as well.
Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets have hit a bit of a rough patch lately, posting a 5-5 record in the month of March due to a 4-game losing streak to a slate of...honestly, non-contending teams. A quartet of losses to the Bulls, Spurs, Nets, and Raptors is definitely the sort of result that teams can experience during a season, but consecutively? And without any significant injuries? Definitely an eyebrow-raising stretch of play, but the Nuggets are still the top of the class in the Western Conference. They should be at full strength tonight, making them a worthy challenge for Milwaukee at this stage of the season.
Player To Watch
Look, the Bucks only play Denver twice per year, which means some fans only get a chance to witness Nikola Jokic twice per year, and that is simply not enough Nikola Jokic. He doesn’t produce as many eye-popping highlights as our preferred MVP candidate, but the way he consistently produces positive plays for his team demonstrates his own worthiness in such a debate. Jokic might be the best passer of the current generation of NBA players, and he ranks among the best passers in all of basketball history. He finds and exploits funky angles that most of us don’t even know exists, he’s a tremendous shot-maker, and historically he gives the Bucks’ defense fits whenever they play. Remember this?
Anyways, most Bucks and Nuggets fans can agree that they want their guy to win the MVP, and they’ll go to battle fighting for that cause. And if they can’t have that, most Bucks and Nuggets fans agree that they’d rather see the MVP go to the other guy, because there’s a mutual appreciation there. As long as it doesn’t go to Joel Embiid.
Game 74: Against Denver, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)