Four teams for two spots: Milwaukee Bucks make push for the playoffs

Posted at 1:30 PM, Mar 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-20 15:45:34-04

With only three weeks remaining on the NBA slate, the Milwaukee Bucks are making a push for the playoffs. Six teams are essentially locked into the postseason (Cleveland, Boston, Washington, Toronto, Atlanta, and Indiana), which leaves four other teams competing for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference.

Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 34-35 (currently seventh)
Remaining schedule: five home games, eight road games

The Bucks are playing some of their best basketball of the season, winning eight of their last 10 games, with the only two losses coming on the road at Memphis and at Golden State. Giannis Antetokounmpo has maintained his All-NBA level, and Khris Middleton has quickly found his stride after returning from injury (17.2 points on 41 percent three-point shooting over those 10 games).

Milwaukee’s remaining schedule is fairly easy (eight of the 13 games are against teams under .500), so they will have ample opportunity to pad their current win total.

Detroit Pistons
Record: 34-36 (currently eighth)
Remaining schedule: four home games, eight road games

The Pistons are in the midst of a incredibly easy stretch of games. Including Sunday’s win over the Suns, Detroit will play eight consecutive games against teams who are a combined 153 games under .500. Three of those contests even come against the teams they are directly competing with for a playoff spot: Milwaukee, Miami, and Chicago. This is the time for the inconsistent Pistons to solidify their playoff chances.

Miami Heat
Record: 34-36 (currently ninth)
Remaining schedule: six home games, six road games

Since bottoming out at 11-30 in mid-January, the Heat have caught fire, going 24-6 over the last two months. This is no longer a fluke; head coach Erik Spoelstra and his squad have figured something out. Point guard Goran Dragic is averaging over 20 points a game, and center Hassan Whiteside is posting double-doubles almost nightly. Even constant enigmas Dion Waiters and James Johnson have settled down in Miami, combining for over 28 points per game.

The remaining schedule is not easy; the Heat still have six games remaining against the top four teams in the Eastern Conference. But with the way this team has been playing, they shouldn't be afraid of any team in the league. Miami is on the precipice of one of the great season-long comebacks in NBA history. There is no reason to think they can’t sneak into the postseason and give one of the top teams a scare in the first round.

Chicago Bulls
Record: 33-37 (currently 10th)
Remaining schedule: six home games, six road games

The Bulls are hanging on for dear life here; Chicago is just 5-8 since the All-Star break. Still, the Bulls have the easiest remaining schedule in the entire NBA. If Jimmy Butler can snap out of his recent slump, then Chicago could backdoor their way to the playoffs.

Luckily for NBA fans, the two most interesting teams (Milwaukee and Miami) among this mediocre grouping also happen to be the hottest. The Bucks and Heat could bring some feisty energy and star power to the NBA postseason, while Detroit and Chicago have been marked by passive-aggressive bickering, injuries, and poor play this season. The Bucks and Heat are two teams on the rise. The Pistons and Bulls are two teams looking to make a change.

According to ESPN's FiveThirtyEight, the playoff odds for these four teams are: Miami (72 percent), Milwaukee (62 percent), Chicago (48 percent), and Detroit (42 percent). Bucks fans will just have to wait and see how this plays out down the stretch.

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