As the Milwaukee Bucks prepare for the 2015-2016 season, they embrace a host of new players and opportunities after the playoff loss last spring. Yesterday, a large step towards a great season was revealed, as the season schedule was released, showing the exact opponents that the team will face. While each night will bring different ups and downs, the following are some key games that will garner attention throughout the season.
October 28, New York Knicks at Milwaukee Bucks
For the first time in over 30 years, the Bucks will open the season up at home. But, this is no simple start, as the Bucks will be without Giannis Antetokounmpo (suspension). It will also feature the NBA debut of Kristaps Porzingis, the highly-touted New York Knicks rookie forward from Latvia. Porzingis has been the subject of many questions this summer, so it will be interesting to see his debut alongside superstar Carmelo Anthony. The Knicks were one of the worst teams in the league last season and experienced a host of problematic instances, so the start to 2015-16 for them will be exciting to watch. Overall, it should be an eccentric start to the season in Milwaukee.
December 16, Milwaukee Bucks at Los Angeles Clippers
This mid-December matchup is the second of the Bucks’ four matchups on a West Coast swing. This matchup is key because the Bucks have a history of unsuccessful trips out West, and so a big win over a very competitive Clippers team would be a nice momentum swing, especially with the next game being against the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Both of the Bucks-Clippers games were very intense last year, although main instigator Matt Barnes is now on the Grizzlies.
January 5th, Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls
This matchup brings the Bucks to the United Center, where they will face the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season in the Chicago Bulls. We know about Mike Dunleavy and Giannis’s beef from last playoffs, so it’s guaranteed to be a good game. The drafting of Bobby Portis from Arkansas, re-signing of star forward Jimmy Butler to a max contract, firing of management-instigator Tom Thibodeau, and hiring of Iowa State all-star coach Fred Hoiberg show how the Bulls have not exactly had a quiet summer either. These acquisitions will bolster their team, and so it will be interesting to see which team’s moves will ultimately make them stronger. This January matchup will be a cornerstone of Bucks’ ability to compete within the division, as a victory over the Bulls could cement a place closer to the top of the Central hierarchy. Let the rivalry resume.
February 29, Houston Rockets at Milwaukee Bucks
This matchup will feature one of the NBA’s best in the Rockets coming to town to take on the Bucks. Dwight Howard, and James Harden make a formidable duo that can form up with any of the NBA’s best. Furthermore, the draft selection of Wisconsin’s own Sam Dekker will certainly add support to this already dominant lineup. Dekker’s return home will undoubtedly cause attention; however, will it cause too much to the point where he won’t play well? This one should definitely be a crowd-seeker.
March 25, Milwaukee Bucks at Atlanta Hawks
Where the season comes towards its close, the Bucks will hopefully be finding themselves once again near or in playoff contention. Hence, a matchup agains the 2014-2015 #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks, will breed a key result and momentum shift towards the last month. If the Bucks are already certain to have a spot, then this matchup will showcase just how ready the team is for the spring’s games. Jeff Teague and Al Horford will be fun to watch against Michael Carter-Williams and Greg Monroe as well. A matchup on Tuesday, April 5th against the Cavaliers should have similar momentum reasoning.
With the season ahead, the Bucks have a lot to look forward to. Each of the 82 games will be lively and exciting to watch, as the team searches for a back-to-back playoff appearance. With Rashad Vaughn and Greg Monroe as well as the spirit of the new arena to back them, this season should once again bring excitement to a dull Milwaukee winter. The Bucks should be happy with this schedule, as it is a nice balance of games against the league’s finest. See you in October!