Tier list of potential first round playoff matchups for the Milwaukee Bucks

New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks
New York Knicks v Milwaukee Bucks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages
3 of 3

Worst matchups for the Milwaukee Bucks

Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers recently got Joel Embiid back from injury and are now ready to make a playoff push, winning each of their last five games as they fight to get out of the play-in.

Looking at the stats, this doesn't seem to be a terrible matchup for the Bucks. Philadelphia doesn't play particularly fast, with the fourth-longest average time to shot, and they also don't move the ball a ton with a dominant player like Joel Embiid, ranking 26th in assist percentage. And they are yet another team in the East that has done their damage against the worst teams, as they have a 26-9 record against teams with a losing record compared to an 18-26 record against everyone else.

The Bucks are one of the teams best suited to face the Sixers with their pair of defenders to throw at him in Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Embiid has shot below 50 percent from the field in seven of his last ten games against Milwaukee), but that still doesn't make this a desirable first-round matchup.

The problem with facing the Sixers is largely just the top-end talent that they have. Tyrese Maxey is a very scary matchup against the Bucks' guard defenders with his quickness and shiftiness, and just from a talent perspective, this would be the most difficult team the Bucks could draw in the first round. Facing Maxey and Embiid in round one would feel like a pretty brutal draw, even with Embiid's consistent injury issues and playoff struggles.

Dealing with one of the best duos in the game, a coach like Nick Nurse and the foul baiting of Embiid is probably something that the Bucks would prefer to avoid in the first round.

Indiana Pacers

It is no secret that the Pacers have been a bad matchup for the Bucks this season. Indiana won four out of five games against the Bucks in the regular season, although all of those games came during the Adrian Griffin era. Milwaukee would definitely come into this matchup looking for some revenge.

This is certainly the most worrisome potential first-round series for the Bucks from a matchup perspective. Indiana plays fast (quickest average time to shot and fourth in fast break points) and moves the ball a lot (eighth in assist percentage). They have the shortest time per touch and the fourth fewest dribbles per touch, and they are the exact type of team the Bucks have struggled with all season. Overall, they have a very explosive offense, ranking second in the NBA in offensive rating.

Tyrese Haliburton is clearly a tough matchup for Milwaukee with his ability to create off the dribble and be a playmaker. Myles Turner has also given Brook Lopez some trouble with his mobility and floor spacing ability as a big man.

The Bucks shouldn't have too much trouble offensively in a playoff series against Indiana, as the Pacers rank 24th in defensive rating and allow the second most points in the paint in the league. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been dominant against them, averaging 42 points on 74 percent shooting in the five matchups this season, including a 64-point game in January. But the Bucks' defense would be at risk of being shredded by this elite, fast, high-powered Pacers offense.

Additionally, the Pacers are the only team in the East other than the Bucks and Celtics that has a winning record against teams .500 or better. They have played up to their competition many times this season and proven they can beat good teams, as they did four times against the Bucks.

The Bucks would be motivated against the Pacers and still should be expected to take care of business in a series against them, but Indiana definitely appears to be the worst matchup for them.