Programming note: Bucks-Warriors coverage starts Thursday night at 7:00 with Warriors Pregame Live, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area (territory restrictions apply)
OAKLAND – Of the 13 games remaining on the Warriors' regular-season schedule, the easiest comes Thursday night.
Except the Warriors (43-26), being the Warriors, having lost numerous times to supposedly inferior opponents, can't afford to make assumptions.
Even against the 13-55 Bucks, who arrive at Oracle Arena leading the race to the NBA Draft lottery.
"Don't disrespect them," center Andrew Bogut said, referring to the Bucks or any other lottery-bound team.
"We’re well aware of the dangers in this league when you look past people and when you don't play your best basketball," coach Mark Jackson said.
Since the Warriors' Feb. 17 vow to treat every game as if it were a playoff game, they have won 12 of 16 games. Three of the losses were to playoff-bound teams (the Clippers, Bulls and Raptors). The other was to the Cavaliers last Friday at Oracle.
The Bucks, by roster and record, don't pose as much of a threat as Cleveland.
"We don't play the record," Bogut said. "Playing some teams that have pretty poor records, our big challenge is obviously beating them. We have to come with energy and the same commitment we have against the Clippers and the better teams. That means coming in with energy, and we'll usually win that game. If we don't have energy and are not committed to our structure, we can lose those games.
"The problem is, sometimes we don't have energy and commitment and we still win games against some of those bad teams. It's a mirage in a way. You think that can get it done every night. In the NBA, it only takes one or two guys to get hot on a bad team and you lose that game. You saw that against Cleveland. We can't afford to have any more of those losses."
Of the remaining 13 games, seven are against sub-500 teams. Of those seven, five are at Oracle, where the Warriors have been oddly susceptible against lower division teams.
It's not easy to lose to the Bucks, who are 5-28 on the road. It's not easy to lose to Milwaukee even with a partial squad. Andre Iguodala is sidelined, Jermaine O'Neal is scheduled to sit out and rest and Bogut is listed as questionable.
But the Warriors are experienced enough to know they can lose, especially if they're caught looking ahead to Saturday's big matchup with San Antonio.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Stephen Curry vs. Brandon Knight -- It's a clash of two scoring point guards that won't always defend each other. The Warriors can survive an off night by Curry, but the Bucks rarely overcome a bad game from Knight.
David Lee vs. Ersan Ilyasova -- Though Ilyasova is capable of filling it up, Lee almost always fills it up. If Lee plays his typical game, say 20 and 11, he'll almost certainly win this battle of power forwards.
INJURY REPORT: For the Warriors, C Andrew Bogut (left ankle soreness) is questionable. C Jermaine O'Neal (general soreness) is day to day but unlikely to play. F Andre Igudala (right knee tendinitis) and C Festus Ezeil (right knee surgery) are out.
For the Bucks, C Larry Sanders (fractured orbital bone) and G Carlos Delfino (right foot surgery) are out.
LAST 10: Warriors 7-3, Bucks 2-8.
SERIES HISTORY: The Warriors were 101-80 winners on Jan. 7 in Milwaukee but have lost seven of the last nine meetings overall. The Warriors have not swept a two-game season series against the Bucks since 2007-08.