Bucks Clinch Playoff Spot

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and the Milwaukee Bucks are headed back to the playoffs for the first time since 2010.


Luc scored 10 points & grabbed 7 rebounds as the Bucks beat the Raptors to clinch a playoff spot (Getty Images).

The Bucks punched their postseason ticket on Saturday with a 100-83 victory over the Toronto Raptors in Milwaukee amid chants of « Fear the Deer » from the Milwaukee faithful.

Luc posted his best game since returning to the lineup following a bout with illness and a foot injury. He contributed his first double-digit scoring effort since March 2nd with 10 points with seven rebounds, an assist and a steal.

« I thought he looked more comfortable, moving around pretty good, » Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. « I had a chance to play him some pretty good minutes. »

After a loss to the Knicks on Friday night in which the Bucks let a double-digit lead slip away en route to a 101-83 loss, Milwaukee methodically built up an insurmountable lead against Toronto the next evening.

To do so, the Bucks shot 50.9 percent from the floor for the first three quarters compared to a weak 34.3 percent shooting effort from Toronto.

It started with a strong first quarter for the Bucks as they built up a double-digit lead, outscoring their opponent 26-16 in the opening frame. Luc pitched in at the end of the quarter with two-and-a-half outstanding minutes.

He grabbed two boards and used the second one to produce a shot for J.J. Redick that put the Bucks up 24-14 with 54.8 ticks remaining in the first. After Luc entered the game, the Raptors managed just two points to finish the first and those came at the free throw line.

Things escalated for the Bucks in the second and Luc became a major part of the offense early in the frame. Just over two minutes into the quarter, No. 12 exposed a gaping hole in the Toronto defense and galloped through the lane for a dunk that put Milwaukee back in front by 10.


Two minutes later, Luc was again open in the lane, where Monta Ellis fed him the ball for a layup that extended the Bucks lead to 15, 40-25.


The Bucks’ lead ballooned as high as 24 points in the second and they took a 19-point edge into halftime. But unlike Friday night, when Milwaukee led a nine-point halftime lead over the Knicks slip away by allowing 42 points in the third, the Bucks bucked down in the third against Toronto.

The Raptors managed just 13 points in the penultimate quarter on 27.8 percent from the field. Milwaukee didn’t shoot much better, but did a great job of getting to the line 10 times in the third and 23 times through the first thre quarters compared to just 10 shots from the charity stripe for the Raptors.

This advantage at the line, allong with the lead they’d built early allowed the Bucks to take a 25-point lead into the fourth quarter and coast to a victory while resting starters Brandon Jennings, Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and Marquis Daniels for the entire final period.

Luc was solid in relief work in the fourth, tallying five points and four rebounds in 8:40 as he and his fellow reserves helped the Bucks put the game away and clinch their first trip to the postseason since 2010, Luc’s second year in the league.

« It’s what we’ve been working for all year, » Sanders said of clinching the playoff spot that has eluded the Bucks the past two seasons. « It was one of our main goals at the beginning of the season. To finally accomplish that is great. Now we just focus on trying to play better, trying to gain momentum as we go into the playoffs. »

At 37-39, the Bucks are currently the eighth seeded team in the Eastern Conference, 3.5 games behind the seventh seeded Boston Celtics with six games left to play.

« We’re going to do everything we can to try and move up because we just want to keep winning games and end the season on a positive note, » Boylan said. « Whoever we end up playing, we end up playing. Whoever we play against, we’re going to go in and compete and play hard. It would be Miami, New York, Indiana and those are really good teams. »

NEXT UP

Unless the Bucks are able to surpass the Celtics, they will face off against the conference leading Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs.

That makes Tuesday’s matchup between the two teams a very likely playoff preview. The Bucks are 1-2 against the Heat this season. Luc has played in just one of those previous three games. He scored 19 points, grabbed seven rebounds and the Bucks were +19 with him on the floor in 104-85 victory over the Heat on December 29th.

Tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CDT and the game can be seen on  FS Wisconsin.

RELATED ARTICLES