The Milwaukee Bucks are about to see their schedule turn for the worse, as the competition ramps up over the next few weeks.
Even with the Milwaukee Bucks winning 50 games and clinching a playoff spot before the end of February, critics have found ways to poke holes in their historic success. The most popular hole to punch is the Buck’s strength of schedule up to this point or lack thereof.
Despite leading the league with an 11.6 net rating, Milwaukee has the weakest strength of schedule up to this point according to basketball-reference. On one hand, it’s helpful when they don’t have to play the 50-win team in the league. On the other, it’s okay to admit they’ve benefitted from a softer road to this point. But, boy, is that going to change.
Milwaukee just wrapped up a victory at the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night that was as hard-fought as it comes. Despite struggling for portions of the contest, the Bucks showed true adversity and fought through it all to come out with the victory. They’ll need more of that over the coming weeks.
The Bucks continue their slate of tough games when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder at the Fiserv Forum on Friday night. The upstart Thunder are in fifth-place in the Western Conference and are pushing for home court in the first round of the playoffs.
Three days later they play at the Miami Heat on the second game of a back-to-back. Two days after that they take on the Indiana Pacers. And two days after that they take on the Los Angeles Lakers. When it’s all said and done Milwaukee will also face the Denver Nuggets, Boston Celtics, Heat (again), Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets AND the Dallas Mavericks before March is even finished.
That doesn’t include the beginning to April when they play at Toronto, vs Toronto, at Boston, at Philadelphia and vs Brooklyn consecutively.
It will be a nice warm-up for Milwaukee who hasn’t had many tough tests throughout the season. They’ve blown opponents out with regularity and could use a nice tune-up before the postseason. The biggest question about those games is; will they even have anything to play for? They’re eight games up on the Raptors for first in the Eastern Conference which means that if everything holds, they’ll have homecourt advantage locked up for the playoffs by April 1st.
Regardless of the playoff seedings, Milwaukee better prepare themselves to get everyone’s best shot over the next month. They’re a measuring stick for the rest of the league and have a huge target on their back considering how well they’ve played over the past two seasons.