The Bucks take on the Lakers tonight in a battle of teams currently occupying eighth place in their respective conferences, and while it seems the Lakers are the only team in the matchup that has to worry about making the postseason, the Bucks aren't moving any closer to clinching their spot. Milwaukee lost to the ninth-place Sixers last night, and Philadelphia could move within six games of the Bucks if the Lakers win tonight. Of course, six games back with 11 to play is quite a hill to climb, but the Bucks would surely feel more confident if they could break their four-game losing streak. Here's more on another team that's backsliding and more from around the East:
- While it appeared to be a near-lock that the Thunder would receive the Raptors' 2013 first-round pick, Toronto's recent slide may improve their odds of keeping it, writes Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. The pick is protected from 1-3 and 15-30, and if the Raptors keep losing, it's not out of the question that they finish with the league's fourth- or fifth-worst record, says Wolstat. As our tentative draft order shows, the Raps are currently tied for the NBA's ninth-worst mark.
- A.J. Price has been out for more than two weeks with a groin strain, and with just 11 games left in the season for the Wizards, the point guard is worried he won't get another chance to improve his free agent stock, as J. Michael of CSNWashington.com details. "It adds to the frustration but what can you do? What can you do? Injuries are part of the game. Just trying to get myself back to form as quick as possible so I can showcase what I can do for everybody and make a statement," he said."I’m really trying to get back on the court."
- John Wall, heading into a summer when he'll be eligible for an extension from the Wizards, has been drawing plenty of praise of late, observes USA Today's Sean Highkin.
- If Jimmy Butler continues to show the improvement he's displayed of late, the Bulls could have a tough decision in the summer of 2014, when Luol Deng will be a free agent and Butler will be eligible for an extension, writes K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Luke Adams contributed to this post.