The Milwaukee Bucks clinched a postseason berth Saturday night after they defeated the Toronto Raptors 100-83 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. There is no question this has been a long time coming for fans in Milwaukee.
With the Bucks securing at least the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, the eight teams in the East now know whom they will have to overcome to make an appearance in the NBA Finals. There are currently still three spots in the Western Conference still up for grabs.
“It’s pretty nice to be able to clinch when you have six games left,” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said, according to JSOnline.com. “It’s a great feeling. The guys have worked really hard so it’s very satisfying for us.”
Milwaukee has not experienced the playoffs since the 2009-10 season, the first year Brandon Jennings was in the league. The Bucks had high hopes that year, but a horrific injury to Andrew Bogut with less than a month left in the regular season left Milwaukee without an overpowering center. Players on the current roster who also played on that team are hoping to stay around a little longer than the first round this time around.
The good news is the 2012-13 Bucks have a much more talented roster than the team of old, especially with guard Monta Ellis leading the charge. Ellis continues to play at a high level and motivate his teammates. In fact, the veteran posted 22 points, nine assists and six steals against the Raptors. It was the 10th time this season that Ellis has recorded at least five steals in a single game.
“It feels great,” Ellis told JSOnline.com when asked about the Bucks making the playoffs. “Now we can focus on finishing the season and going in a positive direction.”
That positive direction should be getting out of the eighth seed and moving ahead of the Boston Celtics in the standings. It is certainly feasible, but two games back with six to play means Milwaukee will have to play every game as if it is their last. It is critical they reach the seventh seed so that they do not have to face the Miami Heat in the first round.
Milwaukee’s uphill battle starts Tuesday night when they face the Heat in Miami.