Bucks playoff picture: Breaking down Milwaukee’s seeding scenarios in 2024 NBA bracket

This season has gone anything but smoothly for the Bucks despite the franchise adding star Damian Lillard in an offseason trade.

Milwaukee fired first-year coach Adrian Griffin despite a 30-13 start, hoping to overcome some internal discord and on-court defensive lapses by bringing in the much more experienced Doc Rivers. The drastic move simply hasn’t worked. The Bucks are under .500 with Rivers and started April with four consecutive losses, putting no pressure on the Celtics whatsoever in the race for the No. 1 seed in the East.

While the season hasn’t played out like the Bucks extended, the playoffs offer them one more chance to erase the misery. Milwaukee is still in a strong position to host a playoff series, but there are a multitude of scenarios in play heading into the final days of the regular season.

Here’s a look at the Bucks’ playoff scenarios and their schedule the rest of the way.

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Bucks playoff scenarios 2024

The Bucks have clinched a playoff berth, so they are guaranteed to avoid the play-in tournament.

The No. 1 seed is off the table for the Bucks, but despite their late-season struggles, the No. 2 seed is very much in play. In fact, Milwaukee controls its fate in the chase for the No. 2 seed.

The Bucks enter Tuesday, April 9 with a one-game advantage on the Magic and Knicks for the No. 2 seed. Milwaukee also holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Knicks, but the tiebreaker with the Magic is to be determined as the Bucks still have two remaining games against Orlando. The Magic need at least one of those games and possibly both to hold the tiebreaker, depending on other results.

At this point, the East is so jumbled that the Bucks can actually still fall as far as the No. 6 seed. They cannot, however, slip to the play-in tournament. The No. 7 and No. 8 seeds are off the table due to tiebreaker advantages.

With that being said, Milwaukee still has to avoid falling to the No. 5 or No. 6 seed if it wants to host a first-round playoff series. Those slots are currently held by the Cavaliers (1.5 games behind the Bucks) and Pacers (2.5 games behind the Bucks). Indiana and Cleveland both own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Bucks,

In a tie involving three or more teams, it’s worth noting the first tiebreaker goes to a division winner. That makes it critical that the Bucks don’t get passed up by the Cavaliers, as Cleveland would win the division in the event of a tie. Such a scenario would remove any division-winner tiebreaker advantage for Milwaukee.

The scenarios will become clearer for the Bucks as the week plays out, but they know four consecutive wins to finish the season would keep them comfortably in the No. 2 seed awaiting the top team from the play-in tournament.

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Bucks standings 2024

The Bucks are the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 47-31 record. Milwaukee can’t move up, but holding onto narrow leads over the Magic, Knicks, and Cavaliers is the mission for Rivers’ team over the final week of the regular season.

Here’s a look at the East standings entering Tuesday, April 9:

Seed Team Record Games back
1 Celtics 62-16
2 Bucks 47-31 15
3 Magic 46-32 16
4 Knicks 46-32 16
5 Cavaliers 46-33 16.5
6 Pacers 45-34 17.5
7 76ers 44-35 18.5
8 Heat 43-35 19
9 Bulls 37-41 25
10 Hawks 36-42 26

Bucks remaining schedule

The Bucks have four games remaining on their schedule, all of which come against playoff teams.

Date Opponent Time (ET)
April 9 vs. Celtics 7:30 p.m.
April 10 vs. Magic 8 p.m.
April 12 at Thunder 8 p.m.
April 14 at Magic 1 p.m.

Bucks potential playoff opponents

Because of the wide range of scenarios still possible for the Bucks and the rest of the Eastern Conference, their first-round opponent can be any team currently seeded 3-10. 

If the season ended at this moment, Milwaukee would be the No. 2 seed and host the winner of the play-in tournament game between the 76ers and Heat.

The Bucks could easily slide to the No. 3 or No. 4 seed, which might make matchups with the Pacers or Cavaliers possible, but there are so many moving parts entering the final week of action that they wouldn’t be assured of facing either of those teams in that scenario.


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