The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the most underrated teams in the NBA this season, and look locked into the 6-seed in the Eastern Conference after Friday night’s Road win at Boston. But the Bucks may get the Bulls in Round 1, potentially opening up some betting opportunities for savvy sports gamblers.
The Milwaukee Bucks (38-38, 97.8 PF-97.6 PA) and Head Coach Jason Kidd took a really physical and psychological big hit early on this Regular Season when First Round, #2 overall Pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, Jabari Parker (Duke) suffered a season-ending Knee Injury, changing much of the focus of this young Central Division team. But Milwaukee (200/1 to win NBA Championship, BetVictor) has responded—although still literally a .500 team right now at 38-38—and will be a tough draw for whomever it plays in the coming NBA Playoffs (Saturday, April 18), although even at this point in Time, we can almost for certain say that the Bucks (200/1 to win NBA Championship, BetVictor) will be the No. 6 seed in the Eastern Conference, after defeating the Boston Celtics (34-42, ½ back in Playoff race in 9th), on Friday night at the TD Garden in Beantown to avoid a 12-game Road losing streak. With only 6 games left on the Regular season schedule, the win left Milwaukee 5½ games behind 5th-seed Washington Wizards (43-33) and 3½ games of the 7th-seeded Brooklyn Nets (35-40). So, the Bucks will be the 6-seed and they’ll get the 3-seed, which right now looks to be their old I-94 rivals, the Chicago Bulls (46-30), although Milwaukee could still get the Toronto Raptors (45-31) or the Washington Wizards (43-33) if Chicago (18/1 to win NBA Championship, BetVictor) folds down this final homestretch.
Next up for Milwaukee (150/1 NBA odds to win the Eastern Conference, Boylesports; 60/1, bet365) is a date tonight (Saturday) with the Orlando Magic (23-53) who pay a visit to Milwaukee at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in a pretty meaningless game in The Whole Scheme of Things for both teams (NBA League Pass—Team 5, 8:30 p.m./5:30 p.m. PT; Odds: Bucks -8, 194, Paddy Power), something bettors may want to think about.
Possible Starting Five
C—Zaza Pachulia (8.3 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
PF—Ersan Ilyasova (12.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg)
SF—Giannis Antetokounmpo (12.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
SG—Michael Carter-Williams (13.3 ppg, 5.2 rpg)
PG—Khris Middleton (13.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg)
Bench, Roster Depth
C—John Henson (7.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg)
PF—Jared Dudley (7.3 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
SG—O.J. Mayo (11.0 ppg)
PG—Jerryd Bayless (8.7 ppg)
C—Miles Plumlee (3.1 ppg)
PF—Johnny O’Bryant III (3.1 ppg)
PG—Tyler Ennis (4.2 ppg)
PF—Jabari Parker (12.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg)—IL
Injuries, Coaching, Intangibles (Potential Path)
The Bucks (43-32-1 ATS, 18-19 ATS Home, 25-13-1 ATS Away) have two main injuries which will affect their chances of having that Dream Season, with the aforementioned Chicago kid (Simeon Career Academy) Parker (knee)—who was reportedly out on the court taking some jump shots before Friday’s game—and Inglis (foot) both done for the season. One surprising thing is how well rookie coach Jason Kidd has done in Milwaukee, but in terms of relevant NBA Playoff coaching experience... Now maybe relevant NBA Playoff playing experience and we’re talking another thing. A plethora of Not. As far as a Potential Playoff Path or Paths for the Bucks to shock the world and get to the NBA Finals (June 6), it would mean having to take out either those aforementioned Bulls, Raptors or Wizards in Round 1. Milwaukee’s most likely statistical opponent, Chicago was 3-1 SU against the Bucks in the Regular Season, while the Raptors were 2-1 SU against Milwaukee, while the Wizards were also 2-1 SU against them. Those who make NBA picks are aware of one Redeeming Reality from all those series losses: Despite winning only once each against potential Round 1 postseason opponents Chicago, Toronto and Washington, Milwaukee won the last meeting against all three of them.
In a theoretical Round 2, the Bucks would then almost 99.999% get LeBron James (+2200 to be Regular Season MVP, Paddy Power) and his Cleveland Cavaliers (49-27), or Misery and Pain and a potential Memorial Day weekend golfing dates and regrets. And then, if that upset occurred, the Bucks would likely play the No. 1-seed, the Atlanta Hawks or possibly Demar DeRozan and the Raptors or the Wizards and Human Blur John Wall or maybe even Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat (34-41)—all series which would be absolute nightmares for the Bucks, but still winnable. The Bulls, Cavaliers and Raptors seem to be the three Eastern Conference clubs the Bucks would not like to be seeing in the near future, and the schedule looks like a Bucks-Bulls series is a pretty good possibility, but still etched not in stone.
Milwaukee is surprisingly good on the Road against the Las Vegas number (25-13-1 ATS), and if the NBA Finals were a Scrabble game or contest to see which team has the most combined letters in the names of the players in their starting 5’s—Milwaukee has 78 and a fricking hyphen for the love of God— the Bucks would win both, hands down. Names like Zaza Pachulia, Ersan Ilyasova, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Georgia, Turkey, Greece) are exotic, and make a name like O.J Mayo seem normal. But the thing is, Pachulia, Antetokounmpo and Ilyasova can all really ball, and Middleton and Bayless give former PG Kidd two decent PGs with which to work. But some problems here will be Youth and Expectations and knowing what it’s like to play in the NBA Playoffs—let alone also try to make a Deep Run. And with Parker and Inglis out, and potential Round 1 opponents the Bulls and the Raptors both simply playing better basketball than the Bucks (4-6 L10) and not scared of Milwaukee, the edge goes to their opponents. And Kidd definitely isn’t a great NBA coach (just yet), by any stretch of the imagination. Milwaukee has been surprisingly good this season—despite Parker’s absence—has a nice front line, and should evolve into a good NBA basketball team over the next 2 to 3 years, but with a 3-10 record against potential Round 1 opponents in this Eastern Conference, a .500 record, an unproven ability to win consistently on the Road (16-23 SU), Parker out, Kidd at the helm and the Bulls just loving the idea of locking horns (Bulls, Bucks, get it Manuel?) with their Interstate-94 rivals, Milwaukee’s total number of games in this coming 2015 NBA Playoffs should be 4 or 5 .
PREDICTED PLAYOFF DESTINY: Milwaukee Bucks lose to Chicago Bulls in Round 1
RELATED PLAYOFF PICKS: Take Bulls ATS over Bucks (if Play) in Round 1 Games 1 and 2 in Chicago