The Bucks are having a historic season and can still build on it. The Bucks hold the best record in the NBA at 52-8 with a ten-game lead over the second-place Raptors in the Eastern Conference. The Bucks lead the league scoring 119.6 points per game and a +12.8 point differential on its opponents.
What Records Are Being Broken
On February 23, the Bucks became the fastest team to ever clinch a playoff spot, breaking the Warriors’ record from the 2016-17 season. The Warriors ended that season with the greatest record in NBA history at 73-9. However, it did not result in an NBA Finals victory as they were looking to repeat as NBA Champions but lost to the Cavaliers. During that season, the Warriors had a simple rating system, which rates a team based on their scoring and victory point spread, of 10.38. The Bucks currently own an SRS of 11.53 which is 1.15 points higher than the Warriors in 2016-17. The Bucks led the Eastern Conference last year with a 60-22 record and an SRS of 8.04 but failed to make it past the Conference Finals where they lost to the Raptors who ultimately went on to win the Finals. The Bucks have not won an NBA Finals since the 1970-71 season and have made just one NBA Finals appearance since. The Bucks will look to break the curse this as they should end the year atop the Eastern Conference in the regular season for the second consecutive year.
Not only do the Bucks win a lot of games, but they also tend to blow out the majority of the teams that they play. Their +12.8 margin of victory is the largest in NBA history placing the team in front of the 1971-72 Lakers who had a margin of victory of 12.28. The Bucks are currently on a six-game winning streak where its closest game was against the Hornets, who they beat by eight points on the road, and have its highest margin of victory on this stretch being a home game in which they beat the Thunder by a score of 133-86, a 47 point victory which was also their largest win margin of the year. It does not seem to matter the quality of the team in the end as the Bucks also defeated the second-place Raptors on this stretch by a score of 108-97 which is an 11-point victory and the Thunder, who the Bucks beat by 47 points, are 37-23 on the season and sit in sixth in the Western Conference. The Bucks have found a way to not only defeat its competition but dominate them and not allowing them to even have a chance towards the end of games.
The obvious leader of this team is the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokunmpo, who is on pace to defend his MVP and potentially be named defensive player of the year as well which would make him just the third player to ever accomplish this while the other two were Michael Jordan in 1988 and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1994. Giannis is scoring a career-high 29.9 points per game (third in the league), 13.8 rebounds per game (fourth in the league), and 5.8 assists per game. He leads the league in field goals made (597), player efficiency rating (32.3), defensive rating (95.7), defensive win shares (4.6), box plus/minus (11.7), and defensive box plus/minus (4.0). In addition to this, he ranks second in value over replacement (5.8), second in win shares (10.3), average 1.0 steals per game, and 1.1 blocks per game. Following an MVP season and a year where he carried the Bucks to the top seed in the Eastern Conference, Giannis Antetokunmpo has once again found a way to improve his game and lead the team to the top of the conference once again.
No team is complete without its counter-parts. The Bucks have another two-time all-star, Khris Middleton, who has played a major in the Bucks success this season. Middleton is also averaging a career-high 21.1 points per game this season 6.3 rebounds per game, and 4.2 assists per game. He has shot incredibly well from the field and from deep with a career-high .508 field goal percentage and a .438 3-point percentage which is a .6 percent increase from a year ago. Another key contributor to the team’s success is an 11-year veteran, Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe is a solid player that provides a lot of experience at the point guard position averaging 15.8 points per game, 5.5 assists per game, and 4.8 rebounds per game.
The Bucks would not be what it is without its ability to shoot the ball from deep. This comes from the entire team with four players shooting over 40% from 3-point range and nine players making at least one 3-pointer per game. Big contributions come from the league-leader in 3-point percentage, George Hill, who is shooting 50% from deep, Khris Middleton, who is shooting a career-high 43.8% from deep, and Kyle Korver who ranks fifth on the all-time 3-pointers made list. Giannis Antetokounmpo worked on his 3-point shot as well and has also improved as he is shooting his career-high from deep at 31.7%.
To take a look at the Bucks by the numbers on the season shows how they are the best team in the NBA. The Bucks score 119.6 points per game, the most of any team in the NBA. They rank at the top of the NBA in a 2-point percentage (.568), rebounding (52.0 per game), opponents field goal percentage (.411), opponents 2-point percentage (.449), and defensive rating (101.6). The Bucks rank in the top five in a lot of different categories which include field goal percentage (.482), 3-pointers made (14.0 per game), assists (26.3 per game), blocks (6.2 per game) and offensive rating (113.7). The Bucks are incredibly efficient as they own the best effective field goal percentage in the NBA at .557 as it seems as if they just cannot seem to miss many shots at all. For a team that is on pace to have one of the greatest seasons in NBA history, there are only two players that are all-stars but have an incredible amount of depth with players that can score at high rates from in the paint and from deep. In addition to this, the Bucks are very effective on the defensive side of the court holding their opponents to the worst effective field goal percentage in the NBA at just .483.
Rest of the Season
The Bucks have just 22 games remaining in the season after having won their last six games. However, the rest of the schedule could be one of the tougher stretches that the Bucks will have to have played all season. Twelve of the Bucks remaining games are against teams with above .500 records and in addition to this, three games against potential playoff contenders that remain below .500. The teams that the Bucks still have to play include the Lakers, Nuggets, 76ers, and Mavericks all on the road while playing home games against the Pacers and Rockets, and both home and away against the Raptors, Heat, and Celtics. With a 52-8 record, there is no real evidence that the Bucks are significantly more dominant at home as opposed to on the road; however, the Bucks do maintain a 27-3 record when playing at home and a 25-5 record in away games this season. The Bucks are currently riding a six-game winning streak but with a much stronger strength of schedule heading into the rest of the season and a playoff spot locked up with the support of a ten-game lead in the conference, it will be interesting to see how the Bucks approach this portion of the season. Although it is unlikely, the Bucks also sit just one loss away from the Warriors record-setting 73-9 record from the 2016-17 season and even if this is not within reason, it may be possible that the Bucks manage to win 70 games this year and become just the third team to ever achieve this.