One step closer. John Wall took Friday night off and the Brooklyn Nets took full advantage, beating the Wizards by 37 points in front of the home crowd at Barclays Center. We're in the final stretch now, and the next three games will determine whether the Nets will make the playoffs. The playoff picture is starting to clear up a bit, and we'll go into some more detail about that in a bit. But this could be the day.
Awaiting the Nets will be the Milwaukee Bucks. The Bucks have managed to surprise a lot of people this season and are on the verge of making the playoffs. They won their last game on Friday night against the Knicks. If they win today, they will be in the playoffs.
Where to follow the game
YES Network on TV, WCBS 880 AM on the radio. It's a day game so tip off will be after 3 PM.
Hand in hand
On Friday night, the Charlotte Hornets were eliminated from playoff contention. They lost their third straight and were taken out by the Atlanta Hawks in front of their fans in Charlotte. Also, the Pacers beat the Pistons and the Celtics beat the Cavs. Last night, the Raptors beat
|own tiebreaker over Heat,and Celtics, split series vs.Pacers, lead 2-1 vs. Nets
|Won season series vs. Nets and Pacers, down 1-0 to Bucks, lost season series vs. Heat
|own tiebreaker vs. Indiana, lost season series to Celtics and Heat, down 2-1 to Milwaukee
|split series with Bucks, lost season series to Nets and Celtics, own tiebreaker vs. Heat
|own tiebreaker over Nets and Celtics, lost series vs. Pacers and Bucks
Today, the Cavaliers play the Celtics and the Thunder play the Pacers. With the Nets magic number two, a Nets win and a Pacers loss would secure the Nets a place in the playoffs, their third straight since moving to Brooklyn.
Alan Anderson will miss his fifth straight game with an ankle injury. A league source said he may be out two more games, starting Sunday.
The Bucks are alright.
What's going on? Let's get into it:
Offensive Rebounding Rate
Free Throw Rate
Effective Field Goal Percentage
Opponent's Effective Field Goal Percentage
The Bucks won the first meeting in November, second in February, and the Nets took the third contest in March. The first and third meetings were both triple overtime affairs, the only time that's happened in NBA history.
Before the season started, I asked Brew Hoop's Frank Madden what would be a successful season for the Bucks. Here's what he told me:
And when you consider that Jabari Parker, Brandon Knight, and Larry Sanders aren't playing, their success is even more surprising. Jason Kidd has made a lot of enemies around these parts, but he's been doing a good job with his young team.
Speaking of Kidd, he did something pretty curious this week. He benched starting forward and League Pass favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo on Wednesday against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kidd didn't really bother to explain why he did it, but it's in the past now. Giannis returned on Friday and had 23 points along with nine rebounds. He'll be dealing with Joe Johnson once again. The two of them went move for move last time they faced and Johnson ultimately came out ahead. He has the size advantage over Giannis when he goes down to the low post, but Giannis' length makes him incredibly difficult to score on.
Another day, another terrific game from Brook Lopez. He led the team in scoring once again and has been Brooklyn's best player coming down the stretch. He went to work the last time he saw Milwaukee, scoring 32 points and grabbing 18 rebounds. He's gonna need a lot more help from his teammates on the glass. Milwaukee grabbed 38 (that's right, thirty-eight) offensive rebounds and won the rebound battle by 28. Lopez gets a lot of the heat for the team's rebounding woes, but that's never been completely fair. That being said, he'll be matched up with Zaza Pachulia again.
Player to watch: O.J. Mayo
Mayo isn't the starting guard for the Bucks anymore, but he's still playing. He's been a bit better this year as compared to last for Milwaukee, getting to the line a bit more while cutting down on his three point attempts. Khris Middleton is the starting two guard for the Bucks and Mayo will get around 24 to 25 minutes this afternoon.
With Anderson out, Bojan Bogdanovic will be responsible for picking up the slack. His game has been inconsistent throughout the year, and with three games left to go, will need to stay on a hot streak in order to keep Brooklyn in a playoff spot. Bogdanovic helps space the floor and with Deron Williams running point, will see plenty of good looks from three point range.
From the Vault
The Bucks made three trips to the Eastern Conference Finals in the 1980s. Unfortunately for them, they ran into Larry Bird and the Celtics twice. You can imagine how that went.
- Brooklyn Nets Game Notes - Brooklyn Nets
- Milwaukee Bucks Game Notes - Milwaukee Bucks
- Nets-Bucks Preview - Matt Becker - STATS LLC
- The silent assassin who is shooting Nets to the playoffs - Tim Bontemps - New York Post
- Post doles out its NBA awards - New York Post
- With win over Nets, Jason Kidd and Bucks clinch playoff spot - Colin Stephenson - Newsday
- Nets’ benchmark of success - Andy Vasquez - The Record
- Jason Kidd's former team, the Nets, makes a worthwhile foe for Bucks - Charles F. Gardner - Milwaukee Journal - Sentinel