Milwaukee is currently one and a half games behind the New York Knicks which means every game must be played as if it is an elimination game. With only 13 games left on the regular season it is do or die for the Bucks as they fight for their right to be the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and participate in the postseason.
The Bucks have the ability to complete a season sweep of the Cavaliers, who have lost eight consecutive games. Milwaukee should theoretically have no problem taking care of Cleveland but it is crucial they do not get caught up in the scoreboard and think they can just ease on through. They will have to play with the same intensity as if they were playing the Knicks.
Speaking of New York, tonight’s game begins a five-game homestand for the Bucks in which the last game will be against the Knicks, televised nationally by ESPN. Depending on what happens over the next week this could potentially be a deal breaker for both squads. Milwaukee currently holds a 2-1 lead over New York on the season and a third victory would seal the deal on any potential tie-breaker. Whoever wins that game could go a long ways to who represents the East’s final playoff spot.
“We’ve got to make sure we take advantage of this spot on our schedule when we’re at home, and not go home and kind of get lazy, laying around,” coach Scott Skiles said, according to ESPN.
Skiles is exactly right in which the Bucks cannot afford to fall asleep at this point of the season just because their opponents are inferior to them. Anyone can beat anyone on any given night in the NBA and considering most of these teams are basically out of playoff contention, the next best thing for them is to play spoilers.
“If you want to talk about what’s the most important games, I’d have to say all five of these at home — just from the fact that we’ve been struggling at home lately,” point guard Brandon Jennings said. “But a good thing is we’ll be back at home, be able to rest in our home bed, do our regular thing that we do every day. Hopefully that can give us a lot of confidence.”
To defeat the Cavaliers, Milwaukee will have to get Jennings and shooting guard Monta Ellis going offensively. They will also have to make sure Ersan Ilyasova gets involved in the paint while the sharpshooters can do their usual thing along the perimeter.