Bucks Clinch Playoff Berth with Pistons' Loss to 76ers

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2018

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34), from Greece, celebrates after making a shot over Washington Wizards forward Kelly Oubre Jr. (12) during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018, in Washington. The Bucks won 110-103. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Alex Brandon/Associated Press

For the third time in four seasons, the Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the playoffs.

Milwaukee had the inside track on a postseason berth, but it became official when the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday.

The Bucks announced the news on Twitter:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

We are IN. #FearTheDeer https://t.co/YzvxWrObpY

While Giannis Antetokounmpo has put himself in the MVP conversation this season—he's averaging 27.2 points, 10.0 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game through Wednesday—the Bucks haven't quite lived up to expectations. In fact, a 23-22 start to the season led to Milwaukee firing head coach Jason Kidd.

Under interim coach Joe Prunty, the Bucks have gone 19-14.

Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014, did not make his season debut until February after he tore his ACL in February 2017. Between that and an early-season trade for Eric Bledsoe, the Bucks have had to work new pieces into their rotation on the fly.

A team featuring Antetokounmpo, Parker, Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon has the talent to make noise in the playoffs. If the season ended Wednesday, Milwaukee would be matched up with the Toronto Raptors in the first round.

Although the Bucks went 1-2 against Toronto this season, one of those two losses went into overtime.

As long as key players remain healthy—especially Antetokounmpo—the Bucks will have a chance to win a playoff series for the first time since 2001.