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.