The Milwaukee Bucks currently sit with a record of 25 wins and 30 losses. They are riding a three game win streak and can make a push for a playoff spot once play begins after the all-star break.  Their season has already seen a plethora of highs and lows.   The highs have included Giannis making the all-star game AND starting in it, Giannis hitting a game winning buzzer beater against the Knicks, and basically anything else that is Giannis related.  He has been tremendous this season and is a beacon of hope for Bucks fans everywhere. Some of the lows have included Jabari tearing his ACL in his left leg for the second time in three years and the Bucks losing 12 of 14 games from January 15th to February 10th. Middleton has helped to damper some of that disappointment though as he has looked great in his return from injury.  There is still a lot of ball to be played this season and a lot of history to be made. I am looking ahead to the remainder of the season for the Bucks and make five bold predictions about what is to come the rest of the way.

 

Will the real Rashad Vaughn please stand up?

Although Rashad Vaughn has been in the NBA and with the Milwaukee Bucks for 137 games we still do not know very much about him or what he could become. Vaughn is still one of the youngest players in the NBA at only 20 years old and has a lot of road ahead of him. His numbers have somewhat improved this year but his playing time has decreased dramatically. His Player Efficiency Rating has basically doubled to 8.12 but that is still far below league average of 15. His shooting percentages have risen across the board but he has yet to show any consistency in any aspect of his game.

Vaughn suffered an ankle injury earlier this year but he hasn’t played well before or since recovering from his injury.  He constantly gets lost on defense, which, to a point, you’d expect from someone his age.  He can’t really defend any position other than the 2 either due to his lack of athletic ability. Milwaukee doesn’t seem to have very much confidence in him as he continues to pick up DNP-CD.  They also traded for Snell before the season started to replace Vaughn in the starting lineup.  The Bucks have already picked up Vaughn’s contract option for the third year of his rookie deal so they can take their time in evaluating what they have. As far as Vaughn goes, he will continue to show the Bucks that they have nothing more than a D-league player unless major changes are made.

Winning Second Half Record

The Milwaukee Bucks face teams with a winning record in just under half (13) of their 27 remaining games.  However, they only have 13 home games remaining as well, including a grueling 6 game West Coast road trip where they will play those 6 games in 10 nights.  The Bucks also finish out the season with four of their last five on the road. To contrast that the Bucks longest home stand left is three games, which they have on two separate occasions and they begin with 8 of their first 10 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

Given all of that information there is still hopes for the Bucks schedule.  According to the Prediction Machine the Bucks have the 6th easiest remaining schedule in the NBA.  The Prediction machine consider factors such as “margin of victory and wins and losses of opponents and the opponents of a teams opponents.”  This bodes well for the Bucks chances at turning the ship around and finishing close to or at .500.

My prediction for the Bucks second half record goes as follows.  They will finish out February getting 2 wins in 3 games. They win vs Phoenix for sure and then will steal either the game vs the Jazz or at Cleveland.  In March they will have a record of 12 wins and 6 losses. In order for the Bucks to finish with 12 wins they must protect their home court including wins over Denver, one of either the Clippers or Raptors, Knicks, Pacers, Timberwolves, Bulls, and Pistons.  They must also win on the road against the 76ers, Lakers, Trail Blazers, Kings, and Hornets. To finish out the year they will go 4-2 in April. Milwaukee will get their victories vs Dallas, at Indiana, at Philadelphia, and at home against Charlotte.  Overall that puts their record at 18-9 after the all-star break. You heard it here first, or maybe you didn’t, I haven’t decided yet.

Bucks get sixth seed

Following up on my prediction for the Milwaukee Bucks record in the second half is where they will finish in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.  Given that I just predicted Milwaukee will finish with an 18-9 record the rest of the way that would put them as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference.  After Milwaukee lost 12 of 14 games the 6th seed seemed like an unattainable goal for the Bucks.  Due to the weak Eastern Conference, however, the Bucks are able to recover and put themselves in that position.

As it sits today the Bucks are only three games behind the Pacers for that sixth seed. The Bucks beat the Pacers to start this three game streak and they face them two more times down the stretch. Both of those games are extremely important for Milwaukee because it not only gives them a tally in the W column but gives the Pacers a tally in the L column at the same time.  The Pacers have an even easier schedule than the Bucks the rest of the way so those games are of the utmost importance if Milwaukee wants to catch Indiana. In this scenario, with Milwaukee going 18-9, the Pacers would have to go no better than 14-11. With the Bucks winning both of the games against the Pacers like predicted, it would give Milwaukee the tie-breaker and the higher seed in the playoffs.

Monroe continues his dominance

As I previously wrote, Monroe has been a huge lift for the Bucks lately. He has been playing outstanding basketball and is a big reason for the Bucks three wins in their last three games.  All of the reason’s Monroe has been doing well are outlined in the previous article but I will quickly a highlight a couple.

The first Monroe trend that will continue is his scoring.  Monroe has averaged 22.3 points per game over his last three while shooting close to 77%. While I do not believe that he will continue at that torrent pace I do think that he will continue to score with efficiency in this Bucks offense.  Monroe will also continue to hustle and outwork his opponent. His activity and energy level has really picked up as of late and I believe that will continue as they get closer and closer to the playoffs.  With Jabari out for the rest of the year Monroe will continue to have opportunities aplenty.  There is no reason that his recent production cannot continue and in fact, I believe that it will.

Trade deadline silence

The Kings and Pelicans kicked off trade deadline week with a shocker of a blockbuster.  The Bucks themselves have already been involved in one trade this season when they sent Miles Plumlee to the Hornets in exchange for Roy Hibbert and Spencer Hawes, who have yet to appear in a game. Quick mini prediction; unless an injury happens we won’t see either Hibbert or Hawes the rest of the year outside of garbage time.

Greg Monroe has also been subject to swirling trade rumors dating back to last offseason. The Bucks, obviously, are yet to trade him.  John Henson has also been mentioned in trade rumors as well as Jabari Parker before his injury. Monroe has a player option this summer and it is unknown whether or not he will come back to the Bucks or hit the free agent market again. Hammond and the Bucks have been active at the trade deadline throughout Hammonds tenure and are often looking to move pieces around. However, this year is different for the Bucks.

The Bucks future is up in the air at this point due to Jabari’s ACL injury and how he recovers. Only time will tell how he comes back but I fully expect the Milwaukee Bucks to stand pat at the trade deadline. There are too many unknowns for the Bucks to make a move without knowing for sure how it will affect their future.  Without Parker, Monroe becomes the Bucks secondary scoring option until Middleton is completely back.  I don’t believe that trading Monroe will bring back any valuable pieces in return due to the leagues continued reliance on outside shooting. The Bucks have come too far this season to give up one of their best players for minimal return. The only way the Bucks will trade Henson is if they can do a similar contract dump like the Plumlee deal. The Bucks got lucky that Charlotte wanted Plumlee this offseason and were willing to give up two expiring deals. Milwaukee is not so lucky with Henson who they did not have any competition to re-sign in 2015.  Hence, the trade deadline will pass by silently for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Those are my predictions and I’m sticking to it. But just a little heads up for future reference.  If any of these predictions are completely wrong I will deny that I ever said it, it’s not like you will have any proof.  If any of these predictions are right however, I will constantly remind everyone that I was right (yeah I’m that guy). With 27 games remaining in the 2016-17 Milwaukee Bucks season, their story is still waiting to be written.

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I am an avid Wisconsin sports fan and enjoy sharing what I see. I love to breakdown the film and go inside the stats and numbers you see in the box score. You can follow me on Twitter @Brianball0

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