With the Milwaukee Bucks only 1 game behind the Indiana Pacers for the #6 seed, the stars are aligning for them to make a push.
The Pacers have a slightly tougher schedule than the Bucks do for the remainder of the season. More importantly, the Bucks also own the tiebreaker in the season series.
If the Bucks do grab the #6 seed, they would be destined to meet the Washington Wizards in the first round.
The Bucks lost the season series 1-3 to them, but all games were decided by single digits (minus the lone Bucks victory).
Giannis Antetokounmpo versus the Wizards defense. The Greek Freak has absolutely torched the Wizards all season to the tune of 29 points per game, 11.3 rebounds, 6.7 assists and 2.3 steals. Washington has no one who can effectively stay in front of Giannis and shut down his drive to the basket. With the return of Khris Middleton, the Wiz will have to make a concerted effort to not give any airspace to him. This will open up even more lanes for Giannis to operate on the offensive end. The Greek Freak has proven to get whatever he wants versus them, and I fully expect that trend to continue
Bucks point guards versus John Wall. It is no secret that John Wall is one of the best point guards in the NBA, so slowing him down will be a tall order for the Bucks.
In the season series, John Wall averaged, 19 points per game, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 1.5 steals, and 1.5 blocks. It will be interesting to see how Bucks point guards Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova try to slow down his production.
Tony Snell against Bradley Beal. The Bucks defense has been an issue for Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal. Milwaukee’s defense has held Beal to only 41% from the floor and a poor 25% from three. While he has averaged 19 points per game in the series, the Bucks have significantly held him under his season averages.
However, Wizards forwards Otto Porter Jr, and Kelly Oubre Jr have given the Bucks a lot of trouble.
Khris Middleton on Otto Porter Jr. Ottor Porter Jr averages 18 points per contest, 6.5 rebounds, 3 steals and 1 block against Milwaukee this season. He also has shot a red-hot 61% from the floor, and a tremendous 56% from three. Those numbers are well above his season averages.
Khris Middleton would likely guard him, which would likely slow down his production quite a bit. The Bucks missed Middleton’s defensive presence in the 4 games against the Wizards.
Bucks bench versus the Wizards bench. The Wizards bench doesn’t have great depth, but Kelly Oubre Jr provided huge sparks for them off the bench against the Bucks. In fact, he averages his most points per game against the Milwaukee Bucks (11 points per game).
Bucks big man Greg Monroe will also be an X-factor in a series against the Wiz. His rebounding and interior presence will be much needed off the bench. Also for the Bucks, Mirza Teletovic must step up and provide outside shooting for the Bucks.
Prediction: The Milwaukee Bucks would definitely welcome a first round playoff matchup with the Washington Wizards. It would not be easy, but I predict the Bucks would take down the Wizards in 6 games.