Milwaukee currently remains one game back of the New York Knicks after their thrilling overtime victory against the Chicago Bulls Sunday afternoon. The good news is the Bucks also trail the Philadelphia 76ers by only one game as they have lost four straight to make the final playoff push interesting. Not only can Milwaukee get the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference but they will also have a legitimate shot at the seventh seed.
There is no doubt the Bucks will have their hands full tonight as the Thunder are one of the heavy favorites to win it all this year. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden are combining for 68.7 points per game this season. Not to mention, Durant is a favorite to win MVP honors while Harden has basically wrapped up the Sixth Man of the Year Award.
With 10 games remaining the Bucks must buckle down and concentrate on what type of basketball got them to where they are. If Milwaukee wants any chance of defeating Oklahoma City tonight they must execute accurate passes to set up high-percentage shots for their sharpshooters on the outside. If the Bucks can convert the outside perimeter shots it will then open up the middle where Drew Gooden, Ersan Ilyasova and Ekpe Udoh can feast on easy baskets.
Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings will also have to continue to play at a high-level for the Bucks to succeed. The two guards are playing great together as they have finally figured out each other’s game. It is crucial for both players to drive the lane and draw defenders in to open up shots elsewhere on the court.
Against the Thunder, Ellis will have to take over and go on a scoring rampage if the Bucks want to win. Durant will most likely do the same for Oklahoma City, especially if Milwaukee’s defense is able to slow down their scoring which is something they are more than capable of doing.
“For 48 minutes, we just have to go out there and give our all,” Jennings said. “They’re one of the top teams in the Western Conference, so it’s going to be a tough one on Monday.”
If Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is able to play in tonight’s contest, the Bucks will be at full strength defensively. This means Oklahoma City will face one of their toughest defensive tests of the season as Milwaukee is one of the stingiest teams in the NBA, not to mention they are desperate to keep pace with Chicago and Philadelphia in the standings.