The Bucks come home to Milwaukee this week after an impressive 4-2 Western Conference road trip. This trip included unexpected wins against the Clippers and Blazers, as well as some "expected" victories over the Kings and Lakers.
These successful road trip has put the Bucks at 36-35 (at the time this was written), good enough for 6th place in the Eastern Conference. However, the Bucks should not be considered a lock just yet. While Milwaukee is within 1 game of the Atlanta Hawks, they are also just 2.5 games ahead of the Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons, the current holders of 9th and 10th place respectively.
The Bucks have a great chance to separate themselves on Friday as they host the 5th seed Hawks. Atlanta and Milwaukee have played three times already, with the Hawks winning all three games. If the Bucks win this game, they would tie for the 5th seed in terms of record, but ultimately fall to 6th because Atlanta owns the tiebreaker.
As stated before, the Bucks are in a very tight playoff race. The race includes the Bucks, Pacers, Heat, Bulls, and Pistons (in order of current position). The Bucks already have the tiebreaker over Indiana and Chicago with the Bucks winning three times against each team. The Bucks play these two teams one more time each before the season ends.
Milwaukee currently does not own the tiebreaker over the Pistons with just two wins. They also play one more time before the end of the season. If the Bucks can win against the Pistons, they put themselves in a great position to make the playoffs, as they will have the tiebreaker over each of their divisional opponents involved in this race. Of course, the tiebreaker would require there to be equal records.
The Bucks' road to the playoffs will not be easy. Despite the 4-2 road trip, the team is still locked in a tight race. Milwaukee is on the road for 6 of their remaining 11 games, including two in Boston and one in Indiana. The Bucks only play two Western Conference teams, the Thunder and the Mavericks. They will travel to OKC after hosting the Mavs. The Pacers have a difficult schedule that includes games against the Nuggets, Grizzlies, Raptors twice, Cavaliers, and Hawks. The Bulls have arguably the softest schedule in the NBA from here on out. They play the 76ers and Nets twice, as well as the Knicks and Magic. The Pistons have a hard end to their season, facing off against the Rockets, Wizards, Raptors, and Grizzlies. The Heat own the tiebreaker over the Bucks, winning three games.
The race will be tight and could come down to the last few games. The Bucks are hot right now, and if they stay hot, can make some noise come playoff time.