Playoff positioning: Bucks look to hang on at No. 7

The Milwaukee Bucks were reeling.

More Bucks coverage

High-scoring forward Khris Middleton had returned, but Jabari Parker was now out for the season with a torn ACL following a 106-88 loss to the Miami Heat on Feb. 8.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was filling the stat sheet, but the Bucks appeared to be down and out after struggling to eight losses in their last 10 games.

At 22-29 the Bucks were still just two games out of a playoff spot, but nothing seemed to be going their way.

Fast forward to March 20, and Milwaukee is rolling.

The Bucks have gone 12-6 since the Heat game, winning consecutive games against the Indiana Pacers, Detroit Pistons and Brooklyn Nets, before rattling off six straight wins.

Half of those wins came against Eastern Conference playoff teams.

With just 13 games remaining in the regular season, the Bucks are in prime position to make the playoffs.

Five players reached double figures in the Bucks’ 97-96 win over the L.A. Clippers on Wednesday, while Middleton scored a season-high 30 points in the Bucks’ victory over the L.A. Lakers on Friday.

However, they’ll need to keep up the pace.

Milwaukee plays just five games at home the rest of the way and is just 14-19 on the road this season, including back-to-back games in Portland and Sacramento on Tuesday and Wednesday.

But with just 1 1/2 games separating seventh and 10th, Bucks fans should be circling March 26 and March 31 on the calendar, when Milwaukee hosts Detroit and Chicago, a pair of teams battling for the No. 8 spot.

Check out our breakdown of the Eastern Conference playoff race, as the Bucks battle to hold onto their playoff spot with the postseason looming.

Team Wins Losses Win % Games back Home Road Last 10 Streak
1 Cavaliers 46 23 .667 0.0 28-7 18-16 5-5 W1
2 Celtics 44 26 .629 2.5 23-9 21-17 6-4 L1
3 Wizards 42 27 .609 4.0 27-10 15-17 6-4 L1
4 Raptors 41 29 .586 5.5 23-12 18-17 5-5 W2
5 Hawks 37 32 .536 9.0 19-17 18-15 4-6 L3
6 Pacers 35 34 .507 11.0 24-10 11-24 5-5 L1
7 Bucks 34 35 .493 12.0 20-16 14-19 8-2 L1
8 Pistons 34 36 .486 12.5 23-14 11-22 5-5 W1
9 Heat 34 36 .486 12.5 20-15 14-21 7-3 L1
10 Bulls 33 37 .471 13.5 20-15 13-22 3-7 W1

Detroit Pistons (34-36)

1/2 game back

Detroit may have a leg up on Miami right now, but the Pistons are trending in the wrong direction. The East’s 7th-ranked team just a week ago, the Pistons have tumbled all the way to the brink after losing three in a row.

Cleveland coasted to a 32-point win over the Pistons, while the Utah Jazz won by 14 and the Raptors won by 12.

Their offense got back on track in a win over Phoenix on Sunday, as Kentavius Caldwell-Pope posted 23 points and eight assists after being held under 11 points in each of the Pistons’ three losses.

They’ll need to hold serve with the Nets, Bulls and Magic on the schedule this week, but the real test comes later.

Detroit faces Miami and Milwaukee next week — as well as New York and Brooklyn — in a pair of games that could go a long way towards settling things in the Western Conference.

Miami Heat (34-36)

1/2 game back

Like the Bucks, Miami is catching fire at just the right time. Led by center Hassan Whiteside (16.7 points per game, 14.2 rebounds per game), the Heat have seven wins in their last 10 games, including back-to-back victories over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a big win over the Toronto Raptors.

With two games each against the New York Knicks and Washington Wizards left on the schedule, as well as matchups with the Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets and Charlotte Hornets, the Heat are in prime position to capitalize should the Bucks stumble down the stretch.

Chicago Bulls (33-37)

1 1/2 games back

Detroit’s three-game losing streak was enough to push them to the edge, but Chicago’s five-game slide may have pushed them over it.

The Bulls had won just four of their last 10 games when Dwyane Wade went down with a fractured elbow, and now have ground to make up with four potential playoff teams on the schedule over their next five games.

They face Toronto, Detroit, Milwaukee, Cleveland and Atlanta over the next two weeks, with only a March 24 matchup with the Philadelphia 76ers to offer any potential relief.