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A Breakdown of the Bucks’ Chances Against the Play-In Teams

Smell that in the air? It’s time for the playoffs!

NBA: Miami Heat at Milwaukee Bucks Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports

The playoffs are here! It’s always a special time, and it’s even more so a special time given the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks will be beginning their postseason run as the league’s overall No. 1 seed.

Given that they’re the No. 1 seed, the Bucks do not know who their first-round opponent is yet. That will shake out once the dust from the play-in tournament settles.

With that being said, let’s dive in and take a look at the different teams that Milwaukee may end up facing in to start off their postseason run:

DraftKings Odds

To look at odds for the play-in games, click here.

No. 10 seed: Chicago Bulls

Odds: +600 to make the playoffs
The Bulls snuck into the playoffs in the last final spot, securing No. 10. After their hot start to last year, all of the hype around the Bulls has pretty much fizzled out. However, they were still able to make their way into the postseason where they’ll go up against the Toronto Raptors in the 10/9 game. This season against the Bulls, Milwaukee went 2-2. However, despite that, I doubt you’ll find many Bucks fans that’d be worried against going up against their I-94 rivals. Milwaukee met them in last year’s opening round and took care of business handily, and if that were to repeat, I’d be willing to bet a significant amount that it’d be a similar story. Recently, we saw the Bulls come up to Fiserv Forum where the Bucks took care of business without Giannis. It was a marvelous defensive effort, led by Wesley Matthews containing DeMar DeRozan to just eight points. That type of victory gives you a significant amount of confidence if you’re a Bucks fan, should these two teams meet again. They would be my preferred pick for the easiest opponent.

No. 9 seed: Toronto Raptors

Odds: +235 to make the playoffs
I’m assuming that the Raptors will get the best of the Bulls and move on. They’re a team that has seen postseason success before, especially with Nick Nurse at the helm. I know he’s been considered to be on the hot seat by some, but this guy still knows basketball. At the time I’m writing this (Easter Sunday at 9 a.m.), the Bucks are 3-0 against Toronto. However, I still think this is a team that Bucks fans would prefer to avoid. Is it because of the pain from losing to them in the 2019 Eastern Conference Finals? Is it because of the talent that they have in Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam? Or could it be because every one of Fred VanVleet’s high-arching 3-pointers miraculously always seem to find the bottom of the net? My guess would be because of all three. Like I said, Toronto brings the fight in the playoff — no matter how their regular season fared. If they do go up against Milwaukee, I’d anticipate things to unfold in a hard-fought five-game series win for the Bucks.

No. 8 seed: Atlanta Hawks

Odds: -310 to make the playoffs
In terms of disappointing teams in the NBA this season, the Dallas Mavericks obviously take the cake. However, the Atlanta Hawks are next in line. After making it to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021 and losing to the Bucks in six games, the Hawks parted ways with Nate McMillan and brought in the former Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder. Atlanta hovered around the .500 mark pretty much all year. It was actually quite impressive how they were able to achieve that. However, given the talent on the roster, that type of performance is underachieving by a significant margin — especially when Trae Young is on the team. Like they did against the Bulls, the Bucks went 2-2 against Atlanta this season. Despite that, I doubt the Hawks would cause any fits. Should this be Milwaukee’s opponent, my guess is that this series would be either a four-game sweep or be done in five games with Atlanta stealing one at home.

No. 7 seed: Miami Heat
Odds: -5 against the Hawks; -750 to make the Playoffs

Similar to the Hawks, the Heat are a team that had higher hopes on the season. They’ve made at least the Eastern Conference Finals in two of the last postseasons, with the one season they didn’t being an opening-round sweep at the hand of the Bucks. That option remains on the table, and I think it’s the one that will likely have the highest chance of repeating this season. I anticipate that the Heat will be able to get by these opponents, although the Raptors may pose a threat. Should they make the first round, the Bucks would still take care of business pretty handily. Both teams split in the regular season with the home team winning every game. However, given the level of talent and depth that Milwaukee boasts, the Heat simply wouldn’t be able to match things out on the floor. Even if Khris Middleton isn’t his typical self, I can’t see this game going more than five games. Still, this would be the team I’d least like the Bucks to face.

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