Milwaukee Bucks will need just one win to clinch top seed at Walt Disney World

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 20: (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 20: (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

With just one win needed to clinch the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks’ return will be mostly about regaining rhythm.

Remember when the Milwaukee Bucks clinched a playoff berth? It feels like an age ago at this point, so you’d be forgiven for having forgotten it.

When the Washington Wizards got the best of the Chicago Bulls on February 23, the Bucks officially sealed their spot in the playoffs. That marked the earliest date at which any team had sealed a playoff spot since the introduction of the 16-team playoff format.

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Therefore, while the focus for many will be to secure a playoff spot when the league picks up next month in the unfamiliar environs of Walt Disney World in Orlando, the Bucks won’t have quite the same reason for urgency when it comes to their final eight games of the regular season.

In fact, Milwaukee will have very little to play for until the first round of the playoffs get underway, as the proposed eight game stretch to close out the regular season leaves the Bucks incredibly close to having top seed in the East locked up.

The second placed Toronto Raptors currently have 46 wins, compared to the Bucks’ total of 53, meaning that the reigning champions’ best case finish to the season would see their record top out at 54 wins.

With the Bucks currently leading the season series 2-0 and therefore holding the tiebreaker, it looks all but certain that just a single win would secure the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference for Milwaukee. Of course, alternatively, a single Raptors loss would also seal the Bucks in first spot heading into the postseason.

With the No. 1 seed in the East almost assured, the Milwaukee Bucks may need to look to rivalries and the history books for regular season motivation.

If Milwaukee’s eight games in Orlando consist of the next eight games on their schedule, at least in terms of teams who will be in attendance in the NBA’s bubble, the Bucks’ final regular season game could actually end up being against the Raptors.

That speaks to some of the motivations that could keep the Bucks focused, beyond establishing a crucial rhythm to position themselves to kick on once the playoffs begin. With potential for games against the Raptors, Heat, and Celtics, the Bucks could well get an opportunity to set down a marker against teams they could end up seeing a lot more of once the postseason progresses.

Beyond that, it’s also worth noting that even with the Bucks’ season set to fall in nine contests below the traditional 82-game duration, it is possible for Milwaukee to register its best winning total in 38 years.

It may be a slim possibility, but if the Bucks were to sweep through the rest of their regular season schedule, they would register 61 wins for the first time since 1971-72, when the defending champions led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won 63 games.

Perhaps more attainable, if the Bucks were to finish 6-2, their winning percentage of .808 would set a new franchise high mark, surpassing the .805 clip of victories from when Milwaukee claimed a franchise record 66 wins en route to a title in 1970-71.

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With the top seed in the East all but a formality, these are the kind of records that you might hear a lot more about as the Bucks search for some meaning in their final stretch of regular season contests.