Nets-Bucks Preview

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The Milwaukee Bucks are on the verge of securing a playoff berth one year after finishing with the NBA's worst record. The Brooklyn Nets are trying to pull off a stunning turnaround of their own by reaching the postseason after being in a perilous position just one month ago. A year after directing the Nets to the playoffs in his only season as their coach, Jason Kidd looks to guide the Bucks to a postseason spot and slow Brooklyn's surge Sunday in Milwaukee. With either one more win or a loss by Boston, Brooklyn or Indiana, the Bucks (39-40) will be in the playoffs one year after going 15-67. They would become the first team to make the playoffs a season after finishing with the worst record since the 2008-09 Miami Heat, who also were 15-67 in 2007-08. "We've just got to keep fighting and playing until the end," guard Michael Carter-Williams said after Friday's 99-91 win over New York. The Bucks aren't about to simply sneak into the playoffs, either. They are in sixth place in the Eastern Conference with a two-game lead over Boston and Brooklyn with three to play. They are 2-1 versus the Nets and 2-0 against the Celtics, whom they play in Wednesday's finale. With Boston in control of the tiebreaker for seventh, Brooklyn (37-42) is holding on to the East's final playoff spot and is one game ahead of ninth-place Indiana. Being in control of their own playoff destiny is a little surprising for the Nets considering they were in 11th place and 3 1/2 games out of a playoff spot on March 13. They've since won 12 of 16, including a 129-127 triple-overtime victory over Milwaukee on March 20 - the second triple-overtime matchup between the two in Brooklyn this season. "Well, if we don't keep it going, we'll be at home. If we keep it going we'll be in the playoffs," Nets coach Lionel Hollins said after Friday's 117-80 victory over Washington. "We win out, we're in. That's the beauty of it. We're not worried about anybody else. "We'd like for those teams behind us to lose, but if they don't and we win, it doesn't matter." Rookie Bojan Bogdanovic matched a season high Friday by scoring 22, hitting all six 3-point attempts, but Brook Lopez has been the one most responsible for leading Brooklyn's playoff charge. Lopez is averaging 26.2 points on 59.2 percent shooting and 9.6 rebounds in the last 13 games after previously averaging 15.3 points and 6.9 boards. The Nets have won 13 of their last 15 games when he scores at least 20. Brooklyn is averaging 111.3 points in its last three games and has hit triple digits eight times during an 8-2 stretch. The Nets are 16-2 since the beginning of February when reaching the century mark. "They've got guys who have been in this position before. They're veterans. They know how to play," Kidd said of the Nets. "I'm not surprised they're playing well and, again, this is a big game for them coming up. For both teams, we're fighting for a playoff spot." Kidd re-inserted Giannis Antetokounmpo into the lineup Friday after surprisingly deciding to sit him in Wednesday's 104-99 loss to Cleveland. Antetokounmpo, who had played in every game this season and has made 68 starts, had 23 points to go with nine rebounds. "I thought he responded in a positive way," Kidd said. Antetokounmpo is averaging 17.7 points against the Nets this season - his best mark against any East opponent - though 12 of the 53 points he's scored have come in overtime.