ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — Athletes often try to play off the first few games against their former teams as just another game.
Bucks guard J.J. Redick didn’t use the cliché when talking about facing the Orlando Magic on Sunday at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, instead he’s more focused on getting his current team back on track and snapping Milwaukee’s three-game losing streak.
“My mindset today and going into tonight and tomorrow morning is I’m treating it as an important game, just like last night was,” Redick said. “We’re in the mix right now and every win is key for us.
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“It’s a must-win. We’re at a place where we have to start winning some games again.”
Since coming over from Orlando on Feb. 19, Redick has averaged 14.2 points and 2.6 assists per game for the Bucks, shooting 46.3 percent from the field and 35.1 percent from beyond the arc.
Though he spent the first six and a half seasons of his career with the Magic, Redick’s longtime Orlando teammates are almost all gone. Jameer Nelson is all that’s left from the team that made the NBA Finals in 2009.
“I used to always say this when I would lose a teammate in Orlando, people would always say ‘Is it going to be weird playing against so-and-so?’ ” Redick said. “It never really was because you see people come and go. Now I’m on the other side of that where I’m the guy that left and I don’t expect it to be emotional or anything.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the guys I spent a good number of years with and seeing Jameer, our trainers and all of the people who were with me so long.”
While he doesn’t expect Sunday to be an emotional day, Redick is looking forward to Milwaukee’s trip to Orlando on Apr. 10.
“That will be different, I think,” Redick said. “That will be weird and playing in Amway (Arena) as a visitor, I’m sure it will be a little different. I don’t expect to get emotional or anything like that.”
But for now he’s focused on getting the Bucks out of the eighth spot, a window that is closing with each loss. Milwaukee is now three games back of Boston for seventh place and three and a half games behind Atlanta and Chicago for sixth and fifth place. That’s a big difference from Tuesday when the Bucks could have pulled within a half game of the sixth seed.
The Bucks have to take care of business against teams like Orlando in order to have any chance to move up. If Milwaukee doesn’t get hot in its final 18 games of the regular season, the Miami Heat will be a daunting and near impossible task to overcome in the first round.
While some might be happy just to qualify for the playoffs, Redick doesn’t want to settle.
“I don’t think this team needs to put a limit on itself like making the playoffs is enough or anything like that or being the eight seed is enough,” Redick said. “There’s no reason to not be greedy and get as many wins to position yourself to make a run in the playoffs and surprise some people and advance.”
Still sidelined: Bucks forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will miss his fourth consecutive game Sunday with turf toe.
Mbah a Moute suffered the injury in the first half of last Sunday’s game in Sacramento, but returned for the second half. He’s missed Milwaukee’s three games since but is progressing toward returning to the floor.
“I think he’s making progress but I don’t think it’s enough so that we’ll see him (Sunday),” Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. “It’s a funny injury. It’s your big toe. Just walking effects you, now you talk about pushing off and stopping and starting.”