Even though the Wizards are ninth in the Eastern Conference, therefore just one spot out of the playoff picture, the talk of them making the postseason should probably settle down a bit following their two disappointing losses to the Cavs and Bulls coming out of the All-Star break. But on Monday night, they will get a preview of what life would be like in the first round of the playoffs, if they were to make it.
The Wizards will host the NBA-best Milwaukee Bucks, who clinched a playoff spot on Sunday night thanks to the Wizards' loss in Chicago. Yes, it is only Feb. 24 yet the Bucks have punched their ticket, already with 48 wins in only 56 games.
Milwaukee, in fact, is on pace to win 70 games this season. That would rank third all-time only behind the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73) and the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72).
The Wizards just recently got obliterated by the Bucks, 151-131, and their best player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, didn't even play. Barring something unforeseen, he should be available on Monday.
Antetkounmpo appears on his way to a second consecutive MVP award, averaging an absurd 30 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. The last two times he has played the Wizards, he has scored 43 points.
First round upsets are always rare in today's NBA with seven-game series, which are long enough to eliminate any real hope for parity. But the scale is tipped even more so in years like this, when the No. 1 seed is shaping up to be a historic juggernaut.
The playoffs, though, are still months away. And really, the Wizards have more pertinent problems to figure out. They need to bounce back from two frustrating losses against teams they should have beaten.
The Bucks offer an opportunity in the sense that an upset win would erase any bad feelings about the last two days. A victory would instantly become the signature win of the Wizards' season.
They have yet to beat anyone of Milwaukee's caliber, but they have pulled off some stunners. This season they have knocked off six teams with winning records including the Nuggets and Celtics, two of the top-five records in the NBA. A win over the Buckw would top them all.
There is also, though, the potential for a rough night for the Wizards. They need to at a minimum put up a better fight against Milwaukee than they did just weeks ago.
They could use some positive momentum now, but also some semblance of hope for a potential playoff series down the road.
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