Your Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks (38-13) have quickly become one of the hottest tickets in the NBA.
The Bucks rank sixth in road attendance average this year, and at home, the Fiserv Forum is averaging more than 17,400 fans per game, marking their best nightly average since their run to the Conference Finals in 2001-02. That figure is even more impressive considering "The House That Giannis Built" seats roughly 1,200 less than the cavernous BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Milwaukee’s favorable draws have also led to incredible success inside the Forum’s friendly confines. The Bucks are an NBA second-best 22-4 at home this year – just behind the Denver Nuggets – and when coupled with the Marquette men’s basketball, a tenant in the new arena, Milwaukee basketball fans have left the building with a collective smile in 36 out of 40 games this season.
Here are nine must-see Bucks home games over the second half of the NBA season. Get your tickets now!
Wednesday, Feb. 6 vs. Washington Wizards
After a five-game road trip that included two Midwest stops, a pair of East Coast contests and a trip across the Canadian border, the Bucks will return home for a meeting with the somewhat frisky Wizards. Washington is holding surprisingly steady since John Wall’s season-ending injury and is now in the thick of the race for the eighth seed in the East, meaning the Bucks could be hosting the Wiz for Game 1 of the first round in the playoffs. The Wizards defeated an Antetokounmpo-less Bucks in D.C. on Jan. 11 on the back of Bradley Beal’s heroics (32 points, 7 assists).
Thursday, Feb. 21 vs. Boston Celtics
The Celtics return to the scene of last season’s first round matchup, albeit next door to the actual arena where said series was contested. The Bucks won all three games in Milwaukee during that seven-game series and split the two regular season contests in Boston this year. Despite the Celts' early season struggles, this could be a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. If so, that matchup may favor Milwaukee; Antetokounmpo has averaged 29 points, 9.9 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game in 13 contests against Boston over the past two years (including the postseason).
Thursday, March 7 vs. Indiana Pacers
This game has lost a bit of its luster with Victor Oladipo’s recent nasty knee injury, thus putting a dent in the Pacers’ status as an Eastern Conference dark horse. Still, even without Oladipo or a splashy move before the trade deadline, Milwaukee and Indiana harbor two of the deepest rosters in the NBA, meaning this March game – or a potential playoff battle – could come down to emerging role players. The Bucks hold a still slim margin over the Pacers in the Central Division standings, and while division championships are relatively meaningless in the NBA, winning the Central would still have some modicum of importance for a franchise that has not grabbed the title since 2001. At the very least, the Bucks’ marketing team has to break out the tic-tac-toe board during a timeout to salvage this December catastrophe in Indianapolis.
Saturday, March 9 vs. Charlotte Hornets
Charlotte isn’t the biggest attraction in the NBA, but it’s a Saturday night at the Fiserv! Giannis! Kemba! Two mid-market teams with A+ uniform combos! (Also, the Hornets are one of a handful of teams fighting for the final few playoff spots in the East).
Sunday, March 17 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
This weekend matinee features two teams built upon polar opposite ideologies. The Bucks surround Antetokounmpo with unparalleled depth, while the Sixers use a "stars-and-scrubs" philosophy. Giannis dropped 32-18-10 in a Bucks win over Philadelphia in October, making him just the third player in the past three-and-a-half decades to hit those marks in a game. Philly forward, former Marquette wing and sudden comic book villain Jimmy Butler – who was still with Minnesota during the first Bucks-76ers meeting – also makes his annual homecoming to Milwaukee. He has averaged 23.2 points per game in his last five trips to the Cream City.
Tuesday, March 19 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Giannis versus LeBron pretty much speaks for itself, but despite the desire to hand LeBron’s throne to the Bucks’ star, Milwaukee is just 3-12 against James when both players are active. (However, this will be the first season where Antetokounmpo’s team will have something of an upper hand on the King’s squad.) Antetokounmpo is looking to join James (and six other all-timers) by averaging at least 26.5 points, eight rebounds and 5.5 assists over a full season.
Friday, March 22 vs. Miami Heat
This Heat-Bucks game won’t be Dwyane Wade’s only appearance at the Fiserv Forum this year – Marquette honored its former star throughout the Golden Eagles’ win over Providence – but this contest will mark his final game action in Milwaukee. The 12-time All-Star and three-time NBA champion is one of the best shooting guards in history, and is one of just seven players to average 22 points, 5.5 assists and 4.7 rebounds for their career. D-Wade may not have had much impact on the Bucks (besides this iconic photo), but his influence on the Milwaukee hoops scene will never be forgotten.
Tuesday, March 26 vs. Houston Rockets
In the final weeks of the season, the Bucks will host the Rockets in a highly anticipated meeting between the top two MVP candidates. Antetokounmpo is set to become the first player to average 26.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game (while doing it for a team on a 60-win pace), while James Harden is pushing the limits of the human body, posting over 43 points a night since mid-December. A single game rarely affects the MVP race, but one outstanding performance from either player could have an outsize impact on the award. No Bucks player has captured the MVP award since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar won his third trophy in four years in 1974.
Wednesday, April 10 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
The last game of the year could either be a beauty – featuring three All-NBA players jockeying for playoff seed position – or a dud, with three All-NBA players sitting in street clothes resting for the postseason. Let’s hope for the former, as this Thunder-Bucks matchup could sandwich Paul George, one of the smoothest players in the league, between Giannis and Russell Westbrook, two absolute world-wreckers. Westbrook tallied 40 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists in a two-point Bucks win in their most recent meeting last season.