In the first season of the Mike Budenholzer era, the Milwaukee Bucks finished 60-22, which was the best record in the entire league and tied for the third-best record in franchise history. This time around, they’re not only well ahead of that pace, but also on track to make history.
Late on Saturday night, in the last game of the slate, the Bucks got out to a double-digit lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 122-101 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. This was their 41st game of the year, which puts them exactly at the midpoint of the season, and the victory improved their record to a stellar 35-6. As a little simple math would tell you, that puts them on pace for 70 wins.
There’s still obviously a long way to go this season, but if the Bucks were to reach the mythical 70-win mark, they’d be just the third team ever to accomplish that feat. The other two were some of the most famous teams in NBA history: the 1996 Chicago Bulls, who went 72-10 and won the title, and the 2016 Golden State Warriors, who went 73-9 before losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers in one of the greatest Finals ever.
With Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way, the Bucks were at their best in this game. The reigning MVP finished with 32 points, 17 rebounds and six assists in another completely dominant performance, and the rest of the team followed suit. Khris Middleton (30 points) and Eric Bledsoe (29 points, four rebounds, three assists) played as the secondary stars they’re expected to be, while the team rained in 14 3-pointers and put together another strong defensive performance.
And yes, the Bucks are supposed to beat the Trail Blazers. But that they went into this game and so calmly took care of business showcases why they not only boast the best record in the league, but also have a chance to make history. This was the fourth and final game of a long road trip that’s taken them from San Antonio, to Golden State, to Sacramento and Portland. They were on the second night of a back-to-back and playing their third game in four nights.
No one would have blamed them for coming into this game without much energy, or playing like their mind was on getting back home. But there’s no room for complacency with this team. They haven’t lost consecutive games all season and have dropped just four games since the start of November.
After falling short in the Eastern Conference finals last season, it’s crystal clear that this team is on a mission. They aren’t taking any nights off, and that’s proving to be bad news for the rest of the league.