Ladies, Gentlemen and Bango Fans, we made it. The end of January – and the Bucks remain a top contender for the Eastern Conference title. How good is this?
Well, you can forget immediately about ‘how good this is’ because the truth of the matter is the season is only just halfway complete.
And in a sport with as long of a season as the NBA’s 82-game slog, the halfway mark can be a point where initial hopes and dreams begin to unravel. If you’re like the Pacers, you can lose key players (in their case, Victor Oladipo) that will send you tumbling down the standings in the final half of the season to come. A trade deadline looms, destined to either set teams up for ultimate success or dismal failure in the final 40 games ahead. Team’s offensive and defensive strategies are starting to be figured out and need to be tweaked. Changes in line-up are required. Fatigue is starting to creep in.
So although it’s nice to be at the top of the table at the halfway point of the season, all the Bucks can do is keep their head down, their bum up and continue to best utilise the evidently powerful resources at their disposal.
They do exactly that by focusing not on the end of the season to come, but the next game, the next week and the next month to come. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the month of February to come, and the three unmissable matchups that all Bucks fans will be salivating over.
4th February, 2019: Milwaukee Bucks @ Brooklyn Nets
In a month that kicks things off with 5 out of 7 games away from Fiserv Forum, setting up the start of February for success is going to be critical. The Bucks can’t afford to be dropping winnable games as the second half of the season kicks off, and that’s the exact situation they face in the ultimate ‘trap game’ against the Brooklyn Nets on February 4.
The Nets currently sit in 6th place in the East and are a potential playoffs matchup for the Bucks if the results should fall in such a way by the end of the season. Having won 8 of their last 10 games, the Nets are considered a matchup that will challenge a tough Bucks outfit all the way until the final buzzer.
Keep an eye out for D’Angelo Russell – a player on fire right now and likely Brooklyn’s most dangerous scorer when the game inevitably comes down to a number of critical possessions.
13th February. 2019: Milwaukee Bucks @Indiana Pacers
The first half of February are going to be trying times for the Indiana Pacers. Having just sadly and unfortunately (no one likes to see a player go down with a knee injury, even if they are a star on another team threating for the Eastern conference championship) lost Victor Oladipo for the season, the next 2-3 weeks will involve quite a bit of internal discomfort as they figure out the new identity they’ll take into the second half of the season.
By the time the Bucks roll into Indiana on the 13th of February, the importance of a victory for Milwaukee will have become a little more clear. Is it a must-win against a team that has managed to steady the ship after losing their go-to scorer? Or is it a nice-to-win against a team that won’t be the threat they once were come playoffs time?
Either way, the Bucks will be doing everything they can to take down their Eastern Conference foes who have had the edge over them in recent meetings. Without Oladipo, it’s likely Bogdanovic will carry the scoring load and with Middleton, Snell and even Connaughton likely to share defensive roles on him, his impact is likely to be nullified. The other battle to watch will be between Myles Turner and Brook Lopez – two big men who can both hit the three-ball. Whichever way these matchups fall, we’re in for a fun battle with a lot on the line to play for.
21st February, 2019: Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks
For all the falling the Indiana Pacers are expected to do in the month ahead, the Boston Celtics are expected to do the climbing.
They have been sitting idle around the Eastern Conference’s 5th position for the majority of the season, and the rest of the league knows it’s only a matter of time before Brad Stevens’ men generate the chemistry they need to make a push for Eastern Conference supremacy.
With this game being in Fiserv Forum, the Bucks will go in strong favourites but the Celtics will fancy themselves to show their likely future playoff opponents who truly deserves to be feared as the business end of the season begins.
For the Bucks, they’ll be seeing a victory in this game as a near-guarantee that they can lock away a top 3 seed in the east (at least!) as they add another tick to the Celtics’ loss column and further increase their grip on the top of the Eastern table.
Sit back, grab yourself and your friends a beer that Milwaukee is so famous for and enjoy a battle between two well-deserving All Stars in Giannis and Kyrie. Its sure to be a match up that can’t be missed.
What do you think? Which matchup are you most looking forward to this February? Did we miss a game that needs to be included in this list? Let us know!