Assessing the Milwaukee Bucks’ potential first round playoff opponents

Mar 31, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 31, 2022; Brooklyn, New York, USA: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Pat Connaughton, Bobby Portis, Cleveland Cavaliers: Darius Garland
CLEVELAND, OHIO – JANUARY 26 (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

This year the Eastern Conference has seen one of its most competitive seasons in a while. The Milwaukee Bucks are right in the middle of the drama sitting at 49-30 and third in the East. Milwaukee is 2.5 games back from Miami for first and is tied with Boston for second. Philadelphia is also 49-30, but the Bucks hold the tiebreaker.

Just listing off the first four teams gives you an idea of how chaotic the standings in the East are, not to mention Chicago and Toronto are separated by just one game (Chicago has a tiebreaker), and the play-in could still shift around before the season ends. With all this being said, there are a lot of different teams Milwaukee could see in round one. It is almost guaranteed that they finish in the two-four range, but I can’t see them slipping past three. I think Milwaukee is ready to do what they have to do to make it back to the finals, but depending on their first-round matchup, there could be a test waiting for the Bucks right away. Now let’s rank Milwaukee’s potential first round matchups on a 1-10 scale based on toughness.

Assessing Milwaukee Bucks’ potential first round opponents – Play-in teams

Milwaukee is right there for a top-two seed in the East with three games remaining. Considering they square off with Boston Thursday night, there is definitely a legitimate chance the Bucks’ first round opponent comes from the play-in. Although it is way more likely Milwaukee takes the two seed instead of the one, there is still a small chance they can get the East’s top seed.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 5

Cleveland has been one of the more enjoyable stories in the NBA this year. Led by their young and upcoming big three of Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarret Allen this team has shown flashes. They started off the year playing great basketball and were in contention for a solid seed in the east until they started to cool off a bit. The Cavs lead the season series 2-1 and Milwaukee will play them once more in their final game of the season. Cleveland is a good, young, disruptive team, but they simply don’t have the tools to compete against the defending champs. If these two teams meet, you can expect the Milwaukee Bucks to take care of business in four or five games.

Atlanta Hawks: 6

Coming off a trip to the Eastern Conference finals last season, the Hawks have been pretty disappointing. After an up, and mostly down year the Hawks are a game ahead of Charlotte and Brooklyn for the eighth seed. They moved up in the standings after a big win last Saturday against the Nets. They have been playing much better down the stretch here and have jumped up a couple of spots because of it. The Hawks gave us some trouble in last year’s conference finals, but there were some unexpected factors that played into that. Atlanta would not be able to defend the strength and size of Milwaukee thus leading to a short defeat. Trae Young is a game-changing player, so the Hawks will probably be able to win a game or maybe two. The Bucks should win this series in five!