Can the Bucks make some noise in the playoffs? We’ll find out this week.

Ekpe Udoh was big against the Blazers. (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)

The season will not be decided this week.

But you’ll find out this week whether or not it will really be worth it to allow yourself to believe in something unlikely if the Bucks do make it to the playoffs.

Tonight, the Bucks take on the Oklahoma City Thunder at home. The New York Knicks are on deck for Wednesday in Milwaukee before the Bucks head across the lake to visit the Pistons on Friday before Milwaukee faces the Pacers back in Milwaukee on Saturday. Compared to Milwaukee’s recent schedule, this is damn near a death march.

We’ll learn a lot about what’s reasonable to expect out of the Bucks after this stretch.

Even three losses doesn’t necessarily end the season, considering the Sixers collapse over the past few weeks. Not when Philly heads to Milwaukee on April 25 for the Bucks second to last game of the season. That should be a high stakes affair for two teams stuck in the middle. So there will be an opportunity to catch up if this week isn’t exactly as smooth as the last couple have been.

But if the Bucks can’t compete with the Thunder or the Pacers? If they drop very winnable but still tough games against the Knicks and Pistons? That will be tough to take. The Bucks have been rolling over bad teams lately and getting rolled over by good teams.

Since toppling the mighty Heat in dramatic fashion on February 1, Milwaukee is 2-14 against teams with records over .500. Over that same stretch, the Bucks are 17-2 against teams with records below .500. That’s a startling difference, one that doesn’t exactly lend itself to optimism for a strong playoff performance as a seven or eight seed.

We’re all willing to buy in should Milwaukee come out strong this week. A strong effort against the Thunder, I’m not even talking win, I’m just talking about a well played game and suddenly the pessimists would have reason to believe. If Milwaukee can channel what made them such a strong team in the second half against the Blazers and make that work against a team with as much strength up front as the Thunder that would mean a lot. They haven’t played well against two types of teams recently – Good ones and big ones.

The Bobcats big front line of Byron Mullens and Bismack Biyombo gave Milwaukee a lot of trouble on the offensive glass and in the paint. Joel Przybilla plugged up the lane and made life difficult on the glass for the Bucks on Saturday before his conditioning caught up with him and left him watching the Bucks dominate his undersized Blazers in the fourth quarter.

Ekpe Udoh and Larry Sanders led the way against the Blazers, but can they repeat a strong performance against Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka? Is there reason to believe they’ll succeed against Roy Hibbert or Tyson Chandler? I’d say right now, there isn’t. But that doesn’t mean a strong week this week can’t turn things around in the minds of many.

This is a big week. Not just because Milwaukee takes on the Knicks and can directly impact its playoff chances, but because the Bucks finally get another opportunity to show that they are a team that can make some noise and not just another lamb waiting to be fed to the wolves come playoff time.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. He’d love it if you stopped by every time you wanted to buy something on Amazon and gave him some click-through love on the banner up on the top right. Also he didn’t do grades tonight because he thrives on variety. Also – Twitter.

Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball. He founded it in…

15 Comments

  1. Good analysis but I’d argue that anything less than at least 2-2 over the next four will just be status quo and thus no improvement.  Even competitive showings that result in Ls against the Thunder, Pacers and Knicks will be disappointing because the Bucks have put forth plenty of competitive showings that resulted in Ls against stiff competition in this 2-14 run against greater than .500 teams.  Of those 14 losses, seven were by six or fewer points and only five were by ten or more points.  Playing competitively against good competition isn’t something the Bucks have struggled with; it’s beating good competition, period.
     
    Of Milwaukee’s ten remaining games, six are against good teams and four are against bad teams.  I think they’ll need to go 7-3 over this stretch, at a minimum, to both (a) make the playoffs (with a 35-31 record) and (b) have any sort of hope of playing a competitive first round series.  Losses at home to OKC and on the road to IND and BOS are likely, which would mean wins must come at home against NYK, IND and PHI (plus absolute must-wins of course against DET, WASH, NJ, and TOR).

    •  @andyxc13 I think a win over the Knicks is pretty much a thing that has to happen, but if they lose to OKC, but play like a really good team, that is worthwhile. I like your thoughts though.

    •  @andyxc13 You make some great points; however, road losses to IND and BOS are likely? I don’t think BOS will be playing for anything on that last day of the season. I predict the Bucks will beat DET, WASH, NJ, TOR, PHI, BOS, NYK, and have a realistic shot at taking down IND at least once. Also, I love the reference to Udoh and Sanders that Jeremy made. It was great to see the Bucks could hang big finally. Can it continue? If so, the Bucks can hang with anyone, including OKC tonight. Does Skiles push for the two to play together tonight? I sure hope so, the Bucks lead the league in assists/games and are all the way up to fifth in points/game. If Skiles can get his once defensive oriented team back, then this team is scary to play….
      And looking at the mascots…NOBODY CAN MANGO WITH BANGO!!!

    • PattiRafalskiDavison

       @andyxc13 Thanks for doing the research.  I was going to check it out too as it seemed the Bucks hung with a lot of good teams and just couldn’t get the win.  As good as they are playing together I believe they just might pull out an upset or two before the month is over.  Go Bucks!

  2. “Over that same stretch, the Bucks are 17-2 against teams with records above .500.” If only that were true rather than a slight typo…
     
     

  3. Monta Ellis normally has excellent games against the Thunder. He puts a little fear into us Thunder fans. Should be a fun, exciting game tonight. I think in order for us (Thunder) to come out on top we will need to lock down Jennings/Ellis, limit the offensive rebounds, and be active on the offensive boards ourselves.
     
    Prediction: 106-102 Thunder
    Cheers Milwaukee fans!

    •  @Brob785 
       
      The Thunder hasn’t played up to it’s top seed in the west status the past few games, but it still has too much size and athleticism for the Thunder. I love it and hate it when my two teams play.

    •  @Brob785 
      The Thunder hasn’t played up to it’s top seed in the west status the past few games, but it still has too much size and athleticism for the Bucks. I love it and hate it when my two teams play.
       

  4. Bucks look promising…the falling of the Sixers is definitely making it a little easier to obtain a playoff spot….Beating the Knicks is just as difficult as beating any other team…Knicks are not the same team as their record indicates…they’re much more difficult…the Sixers have a stagnant offense…I’d say the Bucks take the 8th, Knicks land the 7th, and Sixers collapse….the way you play towards the end of the season dictates your momentum…and 2-17 versus .500 teams is a disgusting stat, which pretty much means, you’re being swept first round

  5. The bucks wont be making it to the playoffs when they start playing good teams like the thunder! They have no chance tonight! They are only on this winning streak because they are playing weak teams! I wrote an article on this so come check it out! http://nbawagers.com/2012/04/betting-strategy-for-oklahoma-city-vs-milwaukee-bucks/