Analyzing the best-case scenarios for the Milwaukee Bucks in playoff seeding

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

Sometimes, in any sport, across all levels, certain teams just have your number. They can hit shots they don’t normally make, score goals they don’t normally score, or just get past whatever defense you try to play.  For the Milwaukee Bucks, it has to be the Miami Heat.

Fans can still taste the bitterness of losing to Miami in round one of last year’s NBA Playoffs. The Heat right now are seeded sixth, but just barely. The 76ers and Pacers are also right there. If Milwaukee can avoid playing Miami, that would be a big positive for a run at the 2023-2024 NBA championship. 

All time, the Heat have a 12-6 record vs. the Bucks in the NBA Playoffs. That has provided plenty of sour memories for Milwaukee Bucks fans.

With the playoffs inching closer, let us now look at some best-case seeding scenarios.

The best-case scenario for the Bucks

The best-case scenario for the Milwaukee Bucks would be to play the Chicago Bulls in a playoff series.

The Bulls, including all of those great Michael Jordan years and championship runs, still only have a 9-14 record against the Bucks in the playoffs.

The Bucks seem to have the Bulls number when it comes to playoff basketball. 

However, for this to happen, quite a few “what-ifs” would have to come true.

Chicago at (31-32) appears to be a “lock” to make the play-in tournament. The Bulls would need to come out of that play-in game from the number eight versus nine game to take on the Bucks, who would have to cement their spot as the second seed. If all of this were to happen, then Milwaukee would have homecourt advantage. Is there any way that the series wouldn’t go 4-0 or 4-1 in Milwaukee’s favor? Feels like a lock.

Milwaukee was 3-1 in the regular season series against Chicago. The lone win the Bulls did have went to overtime. The game was played at the United Center. It felt like a “Super Bowl moment” for the Bulls.

Playing the Magic, in say, a three vs six matchup

A close second, another solid scenario would be to play the Orlando Magic. Orlando seems to be fading a little bit.

All time, Milwaukee is 7-2 vs Orlando in the postseason. This season, they are (1-1) so far, but the win looked good, while the loss felt “off.” All of this took place before Doc Rivers was even thought of.

For this season, save a “fluky” loss on November 11th, Milwaukee should want to play Orlando. Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner are good, talented young players. However, the operative word there is “young.” The experience Giannis ANtetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton would bring to that series would be a big advantage. 

In the win on December 21st, Giannis looked as dominant against Orlando as he looked all season. The Bucks did not have a particularly strong shooting night in that game, but the homecourt advantage they had at the Fiserv was certainly in play. 

The Bucks were able to play and win as a team. Six players accounted for more than eight points, with Giannis and Damian Lillard leading the way. The way the team was able to move and pass the ball was impressive. That tea leaf bodes well for a playoff series. 

That series feels like a 4-1 first-round victory for sure.

Finally, a good matchup would be to play the 76ers without Joel Embiid

This one feels kinda self-evident, but to be able to take on an “Embiid-less” 76ers team would be an excellent first-round pairing. In a good win on the 25th of February, the Bucks beat the shorthanded 76ers in Philadelphia (119-98). 

So far, Milwaukee is 2-0 on the season vs. Philadelphia.

Embiid is currently sidelined with an injured lateral meniscus, and it's unclear if he will be back on the court this season.

The worst-case scenario would be to somehow, someway, fall out of one of the top six seeds. But right now, that feels statistically unlikely. With 19 games remaining, Milwaukee would need to go through a horrendous stretch for the “pack” to catch them with flipped records. 

Right now, even if Milwaukee was to just play .500 basketball, a top-four seed feels like a given.