Milwaukee Bucks officially clinch postseason berth

DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 20: (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN - FEBRUARY 20: (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks officially clinched their spot for the 2019-20 playoffs on Sunday night, leaving their mark in the history books in the process.

The Milwaukee Bucks may well have been on the ground in Washington D.C. on Sunday, but they played no part as the Washington Wizards helped to clinch the Eastern Conference leaders’ playoff spot.

With the Wizards going head-to-head with the Chicago Bulls at the United Center in a battle of the East’s eighth seed chasers, Scott Brooks‘ team, who are currently in ninth place, fell to a loss that wrapped up Milwaukee’s spot in the postseason.

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Considering the Wizards are set to return home for the second half of a back-to-back and will face the Bucks on Monday, they shouldn’t bet on the Bucks showing them the kind of gratitude they’d probably be very happy to receive.

In clinching a postseason berth as early as February 23, it’s clear the Bucks have made their own share of history, although the waters seem a little bit muddy on the specifics of what that is.

Of course, tracking such a landmark in a comparative fashion has been made more complicated by the NBA season’s changing start dates over the years, as well as the various tweaks to the postseason format over the longer term.

ESPN, with help from Elias Sports Bureau research, have made the rather vague claim that the Bucks have clinched the earliest playoff berth in at least 15 years. In that context, the use of “at least” adds very little of use to the wider conversation. I mean, how long is a piece of string?

JR Radcliffe of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel was able to add some additional detail via a thread on Twitter, noting that this is the earliest any NBA team has clinched in the current 16-team postseason format.

The distinction for earliest team in NBA history would cross over to older iterations of the postseason, with the Celtics and Knicks both clinching by February 13 in an 8-team format in 1973, while the 76ers clinched by February 15 in a 12-team format in 1981.

Still, with the Bucks being the fastest to pass the post in the current iteration, the hope is that this will be just the first of multiple milestones still to come this season.

Next. Eric Bledsoe’s maintaining his 3-point shooting range. dark

With a 6.5 game lead for first place in the East at present, clinching the No. 1 seed will now be next up on the agenda.