If an 82 game season can ever come down to a single week, this is it for the Milwaukee Bucks. The NBA schedule makers opted to not make a total hash of things and wisely set up a series of clashes between the Eastern Conference’s top three teams to help finalize the playoff bracket. For the Bucks, having the Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers come to town offers the opportunity to finalize their hold on the East’s top seed and a doable path back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
To get there will require continued full-strength efforts from Milwaukee. The remaining schedule includes games against tanks like the Pistons, Pacers, and Wizards — the types of teams which the Bucks have shown a proclivity for losing to out of nowhere. The Bulls and Raptors are in a scrap with the Hawks for the eighth seed and so will have something to play for until season’s close. Memphis may be vying with Sacramento for the second seed out West and will be utilizing this final stretch of games to re-integrate Ja Morant before a chance to make good their season of shit talking.
Eight games remaining. Eight games the Bucks should win, but probably won’t. Two games they pretty much have to win. The league has lucked into a formula that keeps the stakes high right through to the end of the year and I think the Bucks will be better for it. They’ve just got to execute.
Thought this was going to be an article explaining why throwing a double at him rarely works anymore. Turns out he’s talking about throwing doubles at guys like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. Buried in that observation is the presumption that the same principle applies to Giannis. Mostly true, but all these guys can still fall into (or be forced into) the trap of carrying the offensive burden all by themselves come hell or high water. Doubling works, just not at a 100% clip.
Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo makes history with 13th perfect triple-double in NBA history (CBS Sports)
I’m actually surprised Giannis hasn’t made “doesn’t miss shots” part of his mystique. He could take run and dunk to its natural conclusion and work like hell to up that FG% to ridiculous levels just to make a point. Plus, that would get him to stop with the ill-timed three point jumpers with the game on the line. Win-win!
The Best Way To Derail An NBA Offense? Make It Waste Time. (FiveThirtyEight)
Big shoutout to Jevon Carter in this article, not only for his league-leading backcourt pressure defense, but also from his colleagues who are known for being pesky guard defenders. While Carter is here to largely fill the role of a point-of-attack guy he will inevitably get run in some series to try and disrupt an opponent’s flowing offense via full-court defense. If it halts the Celtics for a possession or three with the game in the balance, it’s all worth it.
NBA playoff picture (NBA.com)
Posting for reference and because the league actually did something intelligent and post a live “predicted bracket” for the playoffs. A path of Hawks/Raptors/Heat/Bulls in the first round, Knicks or Cavs second round, and whoever survives the Philly/Boston side of the bracket in the ECF looks like an entertaining and promising one to my eyes.
Adam Silver & Co. should get credit for not only expanding the playoff field to give the loser franchises a glimmer of hope for some post-season home game ticket revenues, but for following through on the two step and flattening lottery odds to avoid it being a stark duality of choice. If your aim is to boost draft position it still pays to lose, but you need not lose as much to have a good shot at a top pick. That helps!
Getting this one in at the buzzer (much like the subject matter covered in the FP), lightning-rod-man earns FPOTW honors for “NBA Draft/NCAA Tournament Thoughts?”. I haven’t watched a lick of the tournament so far and can’t offer much insight myself, but assuredly some readers have thoughts of their own on some of the players starring the past few weeks. It is never too early for draft talk!
Know Your Enemy (Until SBNation Ceases to Exist)
Detroit Pistons - Detroit Bad Boys - DBB on 3: What to watch for down the stretch for the Pistons
- While Pistons fans don’t have a lot of winning to look forward to on a weekly basis, they do have the ability to watch young/marginal players take way more shots than is healthy for winning. Isaiah Livers getting up 20 shots when it doesn’t matter is the height of well-done tanking basketball.
Indiana Pacers - Indy Cornrows - Pacers final score: Hawks soar past Pacers 143-130
- Click the link to help boost the traffic numbers of a placeholder website, stay to read about Jordan Nwora’s 33 point outing — including 25 (!!!) points in the second quarter alone. No word on his flashy defense just yet; when Myles Turner went down with injury, you just penciled Nwora in to fill in the gaps.
Boston Celtics - Celtics Blog - The Robert Williams effect
- Robert Williams has dealt with injury for stretches of the season and only recently returned to play from a hamstring issue. Here’s hoping he’s cleared to play on Thursday so we can get a better feel for how the Bucks match up against Boston with him on the floor.
Philadelphia 76ers - Liberty Ballers - Support for Joel Embiid’s MVP candidacy pours in from NBA players, media
- Extremely unfortunate that we have to live on this particular timeline.
The Social Media Section
I sleep soundly every night knowing Bald Satan is driving Dallas’s hopes and dreams into the ditch
The Mavericks came out of the timeout and weren't guarding the right side of the floor...— Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) March 23, 2023
Don't see this very often pic.twitter.com/iNiCIwIqsV
God Emperor Goof posts duckface selfies to celebrate his becoming the franchise leader in games played
But the NBA media mafia would rather you not know this
(hi hello, the bucks have the 3rd best half-court offense and 2nd best half-court defense in the nba since the all-star break)— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) March 23, 2023
We needed more dudes wearing Carhartt in the locker room
Brandon Knight the top comment on this post for reasons that remain entirely unclear
Riley’s 2022-2023 Weekly Prediction Record: 43-31
Milwaukee’s Actual 2022-2023 Record: 53-21
Milwaukee continues a four game road trip with visits to the Detroit Pistons tonight and the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday. Then, they’re back in Milwaukee to play the Boston Celtics on Thursday and the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday.
I expect 3-1 this week with another loss to the Pacers and Jordan Nwora as we rest guys in anticipation of the Celtics game the next night. As long as Boston and Philly show up with full-health rosters and we trot out the same, I’ll be happy no matter the outcome because we’ll have gotten to see true tests against each contender.