Hi Milwaukee Bucks fans! Before we get into the last forecast, I just want to make a quick note about the last forecast. I thought the Wizards’ game was tonight, so I didn’t include it in the last forecast. Since it already happened, I didn’t include it here either, and you can check out the recap from that game here. Sorry to any Wizards fan that reads this. Let’s see how I did last forecast.
Julie’s Prediction: 4-2 (42-22)
Bucks’ Record: 5-1 (46-18)
Okay, so the Bucks have really been outpacing me of late, but I just want to reiterate that the last forecast I expected the Bucks to not have Giannis for at least two games. They essentially didn’t, I guess, and it didn’t matter anyways so the Bucks just don’t need him to win. Last time out, the Bucks took care of business coming back against the Heat for the biggest margin of victory this season. Following that game, they played shorthanded and beat a shorthanded Phoenix Suns team at home, who they rematch this forecast. Then, they played our one road game of the forecast against a new-look Brooklyn team and came back to beat them following crushing the Magic at home. The Bucks then had a primetime game with Philadelphia, in which the streak ended at 16. The forecast finished the following night on that game against the Wizards.
I can’t believe we are already at the point in the season where this is the biggest forecast that remains. After this stretch, the Bucks have a six-game and a five-game forecast, and then we are in the postseason. They should be at or above the 50-win mark heading into the final 11 games of the season. This stretch is one that appears difficult, and likely is, but doesn’t have anyone they can’t beat. It starts off with a pair of forecast rematches against Orlando and Brooklyn, following a road trip out west to Golden State, Sacramento, and Phoenix. They then return home with games against Indiana and Toronto.
I’m going out on a limb and saying that Giannis is likely going to be somewhat hobbled the rest of the season, but aside from that no major injuries at this point. As for the other teams, some consistently injured players—Jonathan Isaac and Ben Simmons—are the only players out for the Magic and Nets, respectively. Golden State’s report is bigger, with Gary Payton II and Ryan Rollins for sure out, as well as Stephen Curry, Andrew Wiggins, and Andre Iguodala possibly not being available. The Kings have a clean injury report, which is something they’ve had all season and likely has helped them be successful. Phoenix may or may not ease Kevin Durant back so we’ll see there. Indiana has a clean report too, and Toronto will be without Otto Porter Jr. Aside from Golden State, there really isn’t much at this point.
At Orlando Magic
Tuesday, March 7th
6PM on Bally Sports WI
Orlando apparently was a .500 team after the rough start they had during the beginning of the season, and like I said last forecast, they are exactly where they want to be moving forward. They don’t pay anybody more than Jonathan Isaac’s $17 million and change, and that would be their only awful contract, although the Fultz deal isn’t great either. Gary Harris is the oldest member of the Magic at 28 years young, meaning I at age 30 would be the oldest player on the Magic so that makes me feel super great. They also are going to be a top 10, possibly top five lottery odds team, meaning that they are both showing signs of a future as well as getting into the top of a stacked draft class (even if they don’t get Victor Wembanyama).
The two most impressive moments of the Bucks’ win over the Magic last week were shutting down Paolo Banchero to nine points, who was my dark-horse/outside-the-box All-Star choice, and the season-high 26 three-pointers. Bobby Portis also scored 0 points in that game, so it was a bit of a rough day for the NBA’s (should be) frontrunner for Sixth Man of the Year. Overall, it was business as usual against a bad but not awful team at home.
Going into this game, I definitely feel confident against the Magic, but I wouldn’t say that I’m overly bullish on this one. The Bucks roughed them up just last week and now go to their home turf where they will likely seek revenge. Remember, this is all the Magic really have to play for at this point, it’s advantageous to their future to lose, so I’m trying to drum up some sort of reason why this team could wake up for this game.
Thursday, March 9th
6:30PM on TNT & Bally Sports WI
To get to 15 wins in a row, the Bucks went into Brooklyn and defeated the new look Nets to get a win. It was a comeback win after being down 10 in the fourth quarter and winding up winning by double digits, so overall it was good. It was also a game where Milwaukee felt some relief knowing that Giannis got to play again, and he dominated like his usual self.
Looking at the box score for the Nets, they had primarily seven players get the bulk of the minutes. Finney-Smith, Johnson, Claxton, Bridges, Dinwiddie, O’Neale, and Thomas were them, and to me that looks like a poor man’s version of the Clippers (before Westbrook). Lots of interchangeable pieces, one big and one guard... I don’t know, maybe that’s a stretch. But this kind of team is one that ultimately has no answer for a player like Giannis, and that is who they ran into. I think it will happen again for their final match of the season.
At Golden State Warriors
Saturday, March 11th
7:30PM on ABC
I didn’t remember if we played the Warriors already this season or not before looking into this forecast, and now that I look back, it was a win at home in early December. The Bucks were kind of reeling at the time, and this was one of those games that kind of “kept up appearances” as one of the dominant teams in the NBA.
Golden State has not been one of the dominant teams in the NBA this season and definitely doesn’t look like the defending champions, but injuries to Steph Curry and others have really hampered them. They also just have not been the same team on the road as they are at home. The only real stabilizing force that this team has had this season has been Jordan Poole, who has been in and out of the starting lineup this season depending on the availability of Steph and Klay Thompson. Other than Poole, everyone else of note has missed at least 10 games.
All in all, this team isn’t going to win the West, but they are going to be a team that whoever has home court against them (Sacramento or Memphis maybe) does not want to face. This team has repeatedly shown they can win, even if they are down, so the Bucks should come to play here no matter who is on the court.
At Sacramento Kings
Monday, March 13th
9PM on Bally Sports WI
The longer it takes Phoenix, Dallas, and the Clippers to really catch up on who they are as a basketball team, the more likely the Kings are going to be the third-best team in the West, record-wise. Isn’t that a bit mind-blowing to say? I’m sure as hell barely old enough to remember that Chris Webber played for the Kings, let alone how good those teams were in the early 2000s when they last made the postseason.
I personally don’t think this is the third-best team in the West, with the aforementioned teams and possibly Golden State at full strength all ahead of them, but they are still a formidable opponent. The All-Star duo of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, the NBA’s rebounding leader, are no slouches and have helped form a dynamic offense. This team is also built to last, with everyone aside from Harrison Barnes under team control next season, so continuity could help them next year.
This year though, I don’t see them advancing past the first round. With Sabonis as the only big man they regularly give a lot of minutes to, defense in the paint is not a strength and something Giannis, Brook, and the Bucks will exploit. The Kings could definitely get a win here, but at this point, I wouldn’t pick anyone specifically over the Bucks.
At Phoenix Suns
Tuesday, March 14th
9PM on NBA TV & Bally Sports WI
One of the answers for the poll question last time was “No Giannis, No Problem” with regard to how many wins you thought the Bucks would get. That was the case here, as the Bucks were able to narrowly escape the Suns at home and beat the new Western Conference favorites to extend their winning streak at the time to 14. Granted, the Suns also didn’t have Kevin Durant, but either way, many outsiders likely believe that Devin Booker was the best player on that court, maybe even that Chris Paul was better than Jrue (hopefully they aren’t that dumb now), and definitely that DeAndre Ayton was better than Brook. So, aside from us Bucks fans who actually understand who is good and who is not at basketball, this was an “upset.”
Ultimately, I would consider that to be a good thing, to be seen as underdogs. I don’t want the talking heads constantly talking about the Bucks like they actually care or understand us, I would rather them think Kyrie Irving is the best guard in basketball or take Ja Morant over Giannis in the postseason (Ryan Hollins). Without that spotlight, we can continue to just do our thing.
This is the game that sticks out on the forecast because even though Sacramento has the best record, the Suns are the best team when fully healthy. For that reason, I have to lean towards the Suns this time (unless Giannis is playing and Durant or Booker is out), but I think we all know the Bucks can do it.
Thursday, March 16th
7PM on Bally Sports WI
Well, the Pacers definitely took the dive that I expected at the beginning of the season, and all it took was an injury to their best player to start them down that stretch. At this point, the Pacers are 29-36 and have won 3 of their past 17 games. That kind of stretch earlier in the year could have put them in the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. In my opinion, that would be a great fit with Tyrese Haliburton and there would be potential for that team to start something special in the Hoosier State. But they screwed up by being too good with too little, and now they basically have no chance of top lottery odds. Fifth or sixth is realistic at this point, at least.
Haliburton is no longer the NBA’s assist leader, but he’s close and still averaging about 20-10 per game. Buddy Hield, Myles Turner, and rookie Ben Mathurin all average over 17 per game as well. Like I said, if you threw Wembanyama in that lineup, it could potentially be very intriguing, especially with the cap space the Pacers have (after taking on the Bucks’ salary dump to get Jae Crowder). That reminds me, old friends Jordan Nwora and George Hill are here, and while George hasn’t had a lot of time on the court, Nwora has been getting his usual 16 minutes, 8 points, with no defense.
I can’t believe I wrote this much about the Pacers, but the Bucks do owe them for taking on our garbage. I don’t think they owe them a victory in this game, but let’s at least not laugh at how bad they will be the rest of the season.
Saturday, March 18th
7PM on NBA TV & Bally Sports WI
Toronto is a team that has been treading water to stay in the playoff mixture and right now would be playing in the 9/10 play-in game. Personally, I see all five of those teams (Toronto, Washington, Brooklyn, Atlanta, and Chicago) as being at about the same level and as equally dangerous to the Bucks in the postseason. Before you all wonder why I think those teams are “dangerous”, I want to clarify my wording. Hamsters are equally dangerous to gerbils, but that doesn’t mean they are dangerous animals, and in a sense, that’s what I see with the play in teams right now.
Toronto made a change since we last saw them and reacquired Spurs’ center Jakob Poeltl, who was part of the Kawhi Leonard package in 2018. That move signified that the Raptors intend to stay competitive and not blow up the team, but he’s not a world-beater at center. The Raptors still have Pascal Siakam playing at an All-NBA level, still have OG Anunoby playing like an analytics guru’s dream, as well as Fred VanVleet—who the Bucks were supposedly trying to acquire.
Ultimately, this team makes me nervous because of past ghosts, but in reality, the Bucks would crush this team just like any of the other play-in opponents in a four-game series. If they lose here, so be it, but I wouldn’t be worried if they do or not.
Julie’s Prediction: 6-1
I’m going high because I need to keep pace. I also don’t believe this in an undefeated stretch, or I may have predicted them to do just that. To me, the road trip is a bit concerning, especially since two of the top four teams in the West are on it, but Golden State—especially without Curry—possibly makes up for it. If Curry does play, this could be a rougher forecast but I still think the Bucks get two of the three on the road trip. Orlando, Brooklyn, Indiana, and Toronto should all be wins, but it’s likely that the Bucks slip up at some point. They can’t be on this kind of tear forever. A few losses between now and the end of the season remind us that losing is part of the game, and one loss doesn’t mean the season is over, or that this team is bad all of a sudden. I don’t want the Bucks to lose again, but getting a random loss here and there reminds us that they win more often than lose, and not to overreact to a loss to a lesser team. What do you think? Vote and comment below.
What Do You Think the Bucks Record Will Be This Forecast?
This poll is closed
7-0 (the new winning streak)
6-1 (Julie’s Correct Prediction)
5-2 or 4-3 (We Came Back Down to Earth)
3-4 or Worse (Everyone Will Then Forget How Good We Can Be and It Will Be Annoying)