Why the Milwaukee Bucks are excited about their tough stretch ahead

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 02 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MARCH 02 (Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images) /

Following their title-winning campaign last season, the Milwaukee Bucks have not quite had a championship hangover this season, but they have been hit or miss. The defending champions have some great wins this season, but also several grueling losses. At the moment, Milwaukee currently occupies the third spot in the tight Eastern Conference standings with a 40-25 record.

As the Bucks aim to find some stability down the final stretch of the regular season and finish it strong before the postseason, they will be tested along the way. Per Tankathon, the Bucks have the fourth-hardest schedule remaining following Sunday’s win against the Phoenix Suns with 17 games left to play. They had been first for quite some time, but that has changed after taking on the team with the current best record in the association.

Some could see it as a daunting task for the Bucks to face such a string of tough opponents to close the regular season, but it seems like the team is fully embracing the opportunity.

Wesley Matthews speaks on how the Milwaukee Bucks are embracing their difficult remaining schedule

Speaking to the media recently, long-time veteran Wesley Matthews spoke on the Bucks’ tough schedule ahead and his thoughts on it.

"“We’ve got the hardest schedule in the NBA, we know that. That doesn’t scare us. It excites us. Everybody’s getting ready for this final playoff push and everybody’s getting ready for the playoffs and postseason. I mean, ours is essentially starting now. However many of these teams left are playoff teams, so we’re getting our stripes now. We’ve got to take care of business, take care of home court.”"

Matthews has a point about being excited for Milwaukee’s remaining strength of schedule, as it will give the Bucks a chance to ramp up before the postseason. With matchups scheduled versus the Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls, and Philadelphia 76ers, just to name a few, the Bucks will have an opportunity to get a better look at opponents they could very well face in the playoffs this year.

Some have argued that the Bucks have cruised throughout the regular season this year and that they take certain matchups more seriously than others, meaning they will certainly have to turn up the intensity during this stretch. It will be fascinating to see how the champs finish out the final 17 games before the playoffs and where exactly they may end up in the jam-packed Eastern Conference standings as a result. Given that the Bucks are just three games back from first but also just two and a half games ahead of the sixth seed at the time of those writing is undoubtedly worth monitoring.

Health will also be a key factor for the Bucks as they brace for this tough stretch of games, with the team hopeful they can get some pieces back. Brook Lopez is the biggest question mark, as he has missed the entire season following the opener due to back surgery but was cleared recently to start doing 5-on-5 work, meaning he is progressing. Meanwhile, Pat Connaughton is still in the middle of rehabbing from a recent procedure he underwent, while George Hill is battling lingering neck soreness. Getting these three back for this final regular season push would be a tremendous help, but the Bucks will have to work with what they have momentarily.

Whatever the case, Milwaukee should be battle-tested as they enter the playoffs this season.

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Stay tuned to see how the Milwaukee Bucks perform in their final 17 regular season games.