The Bucks finally have a schedule to return — here are the matchups
After playing their last game of the 2019-20 season nearly four months ago, the number one seed Milwaukee Bucks finally know when they can resume their dominant march toward the NBA Finals.
Late Friday evening, the NBA announced the schedule for all 22 teams returning to finish the 2019-20 season at Walt Disney World in a truly bizarre fashion. To make a rather complicated situation as simple as possible, these 22 teams will play eight final games selected from the regular season which was cut short by the pandemic in order to determine seeding going into a traditional playoff format consisting of 16 teams.
For Giannis and friends, the final regular season games will see them matchup against a host of formidable opponents and rivals from both the Eastern and Western conferences, making for a "can't miss" stretch of games.
Friday, July 31 @ 5:30 p.m. - vs Boston Celtics
The Bucks will see their first action against their longtime rivals, and current third best team in the Eastern Conference, the Boston Celtics. Throughout the 2019-20 season, the Bucks matched up against the Celtics in two highly competitive bouts, splitting the season series 1-1.
Despite knocking the Celtics out of the playoffs last season, Boston has notoriously had Milwaukee's number throughout franchise history and ended the Bucks playoff hopes five out of the seven times they have matched up. This includes twice in the Eastern Conference Finals and once in the 1974 Finals, meaning this beef goes back a long way and will provide an intense test for the team to kick off the season's comeback.
Sunday, Aug. 2 @ 7:30 p.m. - vs. Houston Rockets
Two days later, the Bucks will finally have a chance to face the Houston Rockets again after initially beating them in their house to open the season. Although the Rockets currently sit sixth in the Western Conference, the season opener saw the Bucks down 16 points at the half and demanded a triple-double of Giannis to defeat Houston. In other words, it was no easy feat.
Moreover, Giannis and Rockets' star James Harden have developed something of a feud which has been simmering since 2019, largely stemming from Giannis winning MVP over Harden last season. Given that the feud has only continued to build since their one and only matchup so far this season, this game will be an exciting peak at their budding rivalry and another solid test for Milwaukee.
Tuesday, Aug. 4 @ 12:30 p.m. - vs. Brooklyn Nets
Like the Rockets, the Bucks have only faced the Nets once before this season — and it too resulted in a Bucks win. Unlike the first two matchups of the season however, Brooklyn is a much less proven opponent this season as they are barely hanging on to their seventh seed in the East with a record below .500.
While the Nets were heavily aided by former Celtic, Kyrie Irving, in their first matchup, Irving's season was ended in February to undergo shoulder surgery and thus this contest should provide something of a break for the Bucks before a heated fourth matchup.
Thursday, Aug. 6 @ 3 p.m. - vs. Miami Heat
Despite being the current fourth seed in the East, Miami has toppled Milwaukee both times they matched up so far this season. This included a deflating overtime loss to open the season at Fiserv and an uncharacteristically low scoring affair in March where Milwaukee lost 89-105.
Although another loss to Miami would likely do little to affect the Bucks standings by the time playoffs come, it would be nice to see them finally conquer the Heat and set a precedent going into the playoffs, in case they come face-to-face again.
Saturday, Aug. 8 @ 7:30 p.m. - vs. Dallas Mavericks
The Dallas Mavericks may not be a name you think of when you think of "Milwaukee Bucks rivals" but perhaps they should be for this matchup alone. If you're confused as to why, the Mavs were the team which snapped the Bucks' historic 18-game winning streak in their sole contest of the 2019-20 season back in December. Further, that win came without Dallas' star, Luka Doncic, who should be in top form for this bout.
Monday, Aug. 10 @ 5:30 p.m. - vs. Toronto Raptors
There may not be a team more Milwaukee fans want to see the Bucks beat than the Toronto Raptors. The Kawhi Leonard-led team bested the Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals last year to go on and win the NBA Championship and despite losing their aforementioned Finals MVP to the Los Angeles Clippers, have remained a dominant force in the Eastern Conference.
On top of that, there is rapper Drake's now infamous trolling which fueled the fire even more. And yet, as of now, the Bucks have had the last laugh, beating the Raptors soundly both times they have faced each other this season. But one more victory couldn't hurt, right?
Tuesday, Aug. 11 @ 8 p.m. - vs. Washington Wizards
As dangerous as it can be to underestimate your opponent in any contest, if there was an opponent the Bucks could think least about in the lead up to Orlando, it may be the Washington Wizards. Not only have the Bucks beat the Wizards in both of their contests this season leading up to this point, but Washington is the team with the worst record heading into Disney at 24-40.
It wouldn't be surprising to see this game used as an opportunity to rest players going into the final regular season game, but even so, that could make for a peak at the Bucks oft-overlooked depth.
Thursday, Aug. 13 @ TBD - vs. Memphis Grizzlies
Milwaukee's regular season will end against the Memphis Grizzlies as opposed to the originally scheduled Brooklyn Nets. Having only played once before this season in December, and ending in the Bucks' 17th consecutive win at the time, this game will provide Milwaukee a chance to secure another season series sweep and create some final momentum heading into the playoffs proper.
The first six games will all be broadcast nationally and the Bucks have announced that FOX Sports Wisconsin will also televise a number of games as well, although the specific games are not yet announced. The typical broadcast team of Jim Paschke, Marques Johnson and Zora Stephenson will return. Moreover, Ted Davis will return to call each game on WTMJ and the BMO Bucks Radio Network. More details on how to watch the games can be found here.