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Marquette In The 2023 NBA Playoffs Schedule: First Round

We’ve got the Bucks, the Heat, and the 76ers to watch in the opening round of the tournament this year.

Brooklyn Nets v Milwaukee Bucks Getty Images

Who’s ready for the 2023 NBA Playoffs?

As always, we’ve got former Marquette men’s basketball players on a roster or two, so we’ll keep an eye on the schedules for everybody involved as the playoffs continue. As luck would have it this time around, there are just two teams with MU guys on the roster and another with a Marquette guy as the head coach. The two teams with active players are facing each other in the first round, so we’re going to be down to just one team with players no matter what after the first round. All three teams are in the Eastern Conference, so there’s a good chance that we’ll see a Marquette rooting interest in the Finals, but it’s far from guaranteed.

Let’s get to the First Round schedules, shall we?

Wesley Matthews & Jae Crowder: Milwaukee Bucks

Jimmy Butler & Jamal Cain: Miami Heat

The Bucks finished the season with a record of 58-24, making them the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference and giving them the best record in the entire NBA by five games over Denver... but just one game ahead of Boston and four in front of Philadelphia in the East. They did this with just 33 games of action from Khris Middleton, and all but seven of those games have been since mid-January. BREAKING NEWS: Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday are pretty good basketball players.

We’re here for Matthews and Crowder, of course. Matthews played in 52 games this season for the Bucks, averaging 3.4 points and 2.2 rebounds in just under 16 minutes a night. Crowder came over to the Bucks from Phoenix in the four team Kevin Durant trade after sitting out for the first 56 games of the season for the Suns. It’s unclear exactly what the situation with the Suns was, but after about two weeks of ramp up time, Crowder played in 18 of the remaining 24 games of the season for Milwaukee, including starting three times. He’s averaging 6.9 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists per game while shooting 44% from beyond the three-point line all in just under 19 minutes a night.

The Heat earned the #8 seed in the playoffs by finishing seventh in the Eastern Conference, losing to Atlanta in the first Play-In Tournament game, but then beating Chicago, 102-91, on Friday night to officially qualify for the playoffs. We’ll see how much that extra action this week affects them while the Bucks have been able to rest. Jimmy Butler has played in 64 of Miami’s games this season, starting in all 64. Most of the time he missed was back in November and December, although he didn’t play in Miami’s final two regular season games ostensibly because of a minor hand injury and then for rest before the playoffs. Coming down the stretch, Butler was averaging 24.4 points, 5.6 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game for the Heat since January 27th. Perhaps most importantly for Miami, he was shooting 41% from long range in the regular season, which is notable since he hasn’t finished a season north of 25% from three-point land since joining the Heat.

Jamal Cain is on a two-way contract with the Heat, and has been all season. That got him into 18 games this season, and he’s averaged 5.4 points and 2.9 rebounds per game in 13 minutes of action. Most of that action was back in November before the G-League season started, but Cain did play in each of Miami’s final three games. I don’t think that’s going to turn into minutes against the Bucks — it didn’t for the Play-In tournament, although he was on the bench — but I’m definitely not as good of a basketball brain as Miami head coach Erik Spoelstra.

Game 1: Sunday, April 16, 4:30pm Central, TNT
Game 2: Wednesday, April 19, 8pm Central, NBA TV
Game 3: Saturday, April 22, 6:30pm Central, ESPN
Game 4: Monday, April 24, 6:30pm Central, TNT
Game 5: Wednesday, April 26, 8:30pm Central, NBA TV
Game 6*: Friday, April 28, TBD
Game 7*: Sunday, April 30, TBD

Doc Rivers: Philadelphia 76ers

Doc is the head coach of the Sixers, and they went 54-28 this season to earn the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Joel Embiid is the top player on the squad and an MVP candidate this season at 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 blocks per game. Oh, and the 7-footer from Cameroon also hits one out of his three long range attempts per game, so have fun defending him. They also have James Harden and Tyrese Maxey averaging north of 20 points a game, and Harden’s actually averaging a double-double at 21 points and nearly 11 assists a night. This is Doc’s third season in Philadelphia after seven seasons running the Clippers, and it would certainly do his job security a world of good if they could reach the conference finals this year after not getting there in his first two campaigns.

As the #3 seed, they get the #6 seed in the first round, and that’s the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets went 45-37 this season, but we have to point out that they are 12-15 after trading Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant in early February. In something that is probably not a coincidence, Brooklyn’s active top three scorers — Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Spencer Dinwiddie — are all guys who came over to the team in the Irving and Durant trades. For whatever it’s worth to you, Brooklyn went 6-3 in their last nine games to help clinch that #6 seed as they finished one game in front of Miami to avoid the play-in tournament. Is that good news for the Nets for this series, or are they on their way out of a season that the front office cashed out on in February?

Game 1: Saturday, April 15, 12pm Central, ESPN
Game 2: Monday, April 17, 6:30pm Central, TNT
Game 3: Thursday, April 20, 6:30pm Central, TNT
Game 4: Saturday, April 22, 12pm Central, TNT

Sixers won, 4-0