The Magic have a one-game lead in the race to avoid facing top-seeded Detroit in the first round. But if the Bucks win Wednesday, they would win the seventh spot because of a better conference record.
The loser will face the Atlantic Division champion in the first round.
The Bucks look like they will be dangerous no matter which spot they finish in. Milwaukee has won three straight and seven of eight, and seems to be in top form offensively.
The Bucks beat the Indiana Pacers 107-98 on Sunday behind Sam Cassell, who scored 33 points. Milwaukee is averaging 109.8 points in its last four games, the kind of impressive play the team hoped for after acquiring Gary Payton from Seattle in a blockbuster deal at the trade deadline.
“Gary and I were on the same page from the start. I think it took the rest of the guys a little time to get used to us dominating the basketball,” Cassell said. “Now, guys know their role and are taking care of business.”
But even if Milwaukee’s offense continues to click, the Bucks still have to find a way to stop Tracy McGrady.
McGrady has scored 40 or more points in each of his last three games against Milwaukee. He had 47 in the Magic’s victory on Nov. 2, and after missing the Bucks’ win on Dec. 23, scored 48 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 111-99 win on March 5.
McGrady also had 48 points last March in his final matchup against Milwaukee last season.
The Magic lost 100-84 to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday night. McGrady scored 22 points but sat the entire fourth quarter to rest for Wednesday’s game and the playoffs.
“We wanted to win the game,” McGrady said, “but we wanted to keep everybody healthy for the playoffs.”
The Magic got back forward Drew Gooden, who scored 15 points after missing three straight games with a toe injury. But guard Darrell Armstrong missed all eight of his shots, making him 1-of-16 over the last two games.
Milwaukee has won six straight home games.
STANDINGS: Magic - 4th place, 7 GB, Atlantic Division. Bucks - 4th place, 9 GB, Central Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Magic - McGrady, 32.1 ppg and 5.5 apg; McGrady and Gooden, 6.5 rpg. Bucks - Payton, 20.5 ppg and 8.3 apg; Mason, 6.6 rpg.
SEASON SERIES: Magic, 2-1.
LAST MEETING: March 5; Magic, 111-99. At Orlando, Gooden had 26 points and 16 rebounds for the Magic, who outrebounded the Bucks 57-40.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Magic - 16-24 on the road; Bucks - 24-16 at home.
INJURIES: Magic - F Grant Hill (ankle); F Olumide Oyedeji (back). Bucks - F Jason Caffey (back); F Jamal Sampson (shoulder).