Milwaukee will do whatever it takes to win over the next 22 games to make sure they are not the eighth and final playoff seed in the East once the regular season concludes. The reason for this is because no one wants to play the Miami Heat in the first round of the postseason. Miami has a very talented basketball team, one that is arguably better than the group of players that won an NBA championship last year.
The Bucks are playing their best basketball of the season since they acquired J.J. Redick in a trade with the Orlando Magic at the deadline. Since Redick joined the team, Milwaukee is 5-2 with one of those losses coming to Atlanta. It was a one-point loss that could have easily gone in favor of the Bucks if Monta Ellis was able to hit the mid-range jump shot at the buzzer. However, the team will still get to play the Hawks three more times –twice in Atlanta– before the season is over, which will give them a great opportunity to move up in the standings.
The other reason the Bucks have a legitimate shot at pushing the Hawks out of the seventh seed sooner rather than later is because Atlanta is struggling as of late and will be hitting a rough patch in the road very soon. The Hawks have lost five of their last six games, including a very unfortunate overtime loss to the Boston Celtics. That defeat cost them the sixth seed for now as the Celtics have taken a half game lead in the standings.
Milwaukee’s next five opponents have a combined record of 133-176, which includes games against the Washington Wizards and the Magic. The only game they will have a hard time winning is against the Heat, but the good news is it’s at home where the Bucks have played Miami well in recent years. Meanwhile, Atlanta’s next five games come against teams with a combined record of 165-145. They will have to face the Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets, three teams will very likely be playoff contenders in mid-April.
If Milwaukee can come out of their next five games 4-1, it will put a lot of pressure on Atlanta to deliver. Once the Bucks take over the seventh seed, there will be nothing stopping them from setting their eyes on the Celtics in the sixth seed. Considering Milwaukee has a very determined group of players that knows they can ball with the best teams in the league, it will take quite a bit for them to be convinced they cannot move up before the regular season ends.