Can the Bucks Really Win 70 Games?
The Milwaukee Bucks have had a season for the ages thus far and continue their dominance of the NBA. We have now reached the All-Star break with the Bucks at a record of 46-8 after a tough loss to the Indiana Pacers without Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team has set numerous records already this season, and now that we are almost to mid-February, it's time to start debating whether or not they can achieve maybe their most important regular season feat; becoming the third team in NBA history to win 70 games.
The feat has only been accomplished by two other teams: Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls in 1995-96 and more recently Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors in 2015-16. Considering the NBA has been around 70 plus years, winning this many games is clearly an exceptional and rare feat. Outside of winning the championship, the Bucks greatest accomplishment this season very well could be hitting this number.
Although 70 wins would be nice, it won’t matter as much without a championship (just ask those 73-9 Warriors from a few years back). While he obviously wants a championship as well, Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry came out last week and stated he absolutely wants this team to get to 70 wins. In the locker room though, Giannis and others still seem to have their sole focus on winning the Larry O’Brien trophy no matter how they get there.
It’ll be hard for anyone to disagree with the Greek Freak that the main goal should be a championship, yet to be one of just three teams ever to accomplish something in the league would be special. But how realistic is the Bucks chance of achieving it?
First and foremost, there are certain x-factors the Bucks may face through the final stretch run of the season. The most important, health. For the cream and green to get to 70, they cannot lose Giannis for any multi-game period; that one is obvious. Any lengthy injuries to the rest of the starting lineup in Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, or Brook Lopez would give the odds a drastic hit as well. The Bucks depth has been their strongest point all year, and if that is compromised at all, 70 wins will become very unlikely.
Another factor Coach Budenholzer will be faced with is whether to rest players or not. The Warriors of four years ago gave us a blueprint of what could happen when playing for your record. They certainly did not lose the Finals solely because they were tired and didn’t rest players down the stretch, but there is no doubt that had to be in the back of Steve Kerr’s mind when it was all said and done, and has to be something Coad Bud will think about as well.
The third x-factor is the movement at the trade deadline. The Bucks have claimed forward Marvin Williams after his buyout with the Hornets, and that continues to add to their already great depth.
Unlike last year however, a lot of their main competition did not do much to get better. The only team that really picked up any pieces in the East was the Miami Heat in acquiring Andre Iguodala and Jae Crowder, but that doesn’t drastically change the outlook for Milwaukee’s remaining games with Erik Spoelstra’s squad.
Buyouts and waiver claims could still be made, but frankly at this point in the season, we know what each team is. So ultimately, the Bucks winning 70 games comes down to a thorough look at the rest of the schedule.
After the break, the Bucks have a Saturday primetime game at home versus Philly, and a tough road test at Toronto. The game in Canada will be tough, but the Bucks should have enough motivation going back to where their season ended last year to get them through with a win.
If the Bucks do indeed run the table the rest of February, they will be 51-8 heading into a daunting March schedule. The first week and a half of the month is going to make or break the chance at 70 wins. A Monday-Wednesday-Friday week sees the Bucks travel to Miami, come home to play the Pacers, and then go to L.A. to face LeBron and the Lakers. They then face a Sunday-Monday back-to-back in Phoenix and Denver, who just took care of business against the Bucks in Milwaukee with a three-point barrage.
To get through that stretch 3-2 or better yet 4-1, will be crucial. The schedule eases up a bit the rest of the month despite competitive home games against Boston, Miami, and Houston on the docket. But in their last game of March, the Bucks take a trip to Dallas, another team who has beaten them on their home floor already this year, and that was without Luka Doncic. All in all, an optimistic expectation would be three losses in March which would put the record at 63-11 heading into April.
Like March, the first week or so of the April schedule is also difficult, but this time out East. They will begin with a home and home versus Toronto which is never easy, and then play road games in Boston and Philadelphia after, two places the Bucks have suffered defeat this year. If the Bucks can manage to get three of those four games, they would sit at 66-12 with four games to play.
The Bucks final four games feature two matchups with potential first round playoff opponent Brooklyn, as well as games with the Cavs and Hawks, all very winnable. This could very well be a spot where Coach Bud considers resting players, but if the Bucks are indeed 66-12, it is hard to see them not finishing out the season to assure a 70-12 record.
Ultimately, this would probably be the best-case scenario through the remainder of the schedule. It is a tough two month finish for the Bucks and they cannot afford any slip ups against lesser teams. The Bucks have been truly dominant and have avoided that so far this season, but as we all know with the talent in the NBA anyone can beat any team on any given night.
However, the scenario is laid out and the Bucks truly do have a realistic chance to be put on the same graphic with the ’96 Bulls and ’16 Warriors forever. Only losing seven games over their first 50, losing five in their last 30 would continue that pace. Provided good health, opting not to rest players, and continued dominant play, the Bucks could very well finish the season at 70-12.
Records and Schedule Info Courtesy of NBA.com