Data predicts Bucks' first-round opponent will not be one of their past demons

Milwaukee Bucks v Oklahoma City Thunder
Milwaukee Bucks v Oklahoma City Thunder / Joshua Gateley/GettyImages

There is just one game left to play in the 2023-24 NBA regular season, and the Milwaukee Bucks still have no idea who they will play in the first round of the postseason.

With a significant slate of games, the Eastern Conference standings could alter mightily on Sunday. The Milwaukee Bucks will take on the Orlando Magic, who is one of the opponents they could square off with in the first round. However, they could also face the Indiana Pacers, Philadelphia 76ers and Maimi Heat. It's impossible to know, but an NBA data model has as good of a guess as anyone.

Data predicts Bucks' first-round opponent will not be one of their past demons

According to, the Magic are the overwhelming favorite to take on the Bucks in the first round, coming in with a probability rating of 54 percent. The Pacers are next at 19 percent, while the Heat are at 15. The 76ers are the least likely at 12 percent.

The prominent reason behind the likelihood of the Bucks facing the Magic is the fact that they can send them downward in the standings themselves with a win on Sunday. The 76ers, Knicks, Pacers and Heat are all playing teams under .500, giving them a chance to move up if they handle business. Milwaukee could lock up the second seed and potentially bump Orlando down to the seventh spot.

Remember, under the new NBA Play-In Tournament rules, even if Orlando fell to seventh, they would not be guaranteed a matchup against the second seed; they would have to beat the eight seed first. Yet, the data suggests that they will maintain that spot and face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in a rematch of the 2020 first round.

For the past month or two, many have figured the Bucks were inevitably going to meet up with the Miami Heat, as they have repeatedly over the years. Miami has gotten the better of them in two of their three recent playoff meetings, including last season. It's still possible they could, but it seems like the probability is less than other teams in the hunt.

In addition to the uncertainty surrounding their opponent, the Bucks are without superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo for the time being, which could potentially carry over into the NBA Playoffs. Locking in the second seed and buying him some extra time as they await to find out their opponent from the Play-In Tournament certainly would not hurt.

It all comes down to Sunday's game; strap in.

Stay tuned for more Milwaukee Bucks analysis.