On the Path to Playoffs?

History says Bucks’ 6-4 start bodes well

Larry Sanders
Larry Sanders and the Bucks are reaching for playoff heights.
Gary Dineen/NBAE/Getty Images

Where will they go from here?

The Milwaukee Bucks owned a 6-4 record through the first 10 games of their 2012-13 season.

That’s a .600 winning percentage which, if the Bucks can sustain it, would put them in the National Basketball Association Playoffs for the first time in three seasons.

A review of Bucks history will show that the team started its season at 6-4 on 12 other occasions and made the playoffs in eight of those seasons.

The first time came in the franchise’s second year in Milwaukee – Lew Alcindor’s rookie season. The team  finished its regular season 30 games over the .500 mark at 56-26, catprured second in the Eastern Division (when the league had only two divisions) and went 5-5 in the playoffs, losing to New York in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The next season in which the Bucks started 6-4 was 1977-78 – three years after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Led by a nucleus including Brian Winters, Marques Johnson, David Meyers and Junior Bridgeman, Milwaukee went 5-4 in the playoffs, losing to Denver in the Western Conference Finals.

The 1985-86 Bucks, featuring Sidney Moncrief, Terry Cummings, Paul Pressey and Ricky Pierce, broke out to a 6-4 start and went on to win the Central Division, marking their seventh consecutive division title conquest. They proceeded to go 7-7 in the playoffs, losing to Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Milwaukee started three consecutive seasons at 6-4 spanning 1996 through 1999 and came away with no playoff trip to show for it. They finished seventh in the Central Division in ’96-97 and ’97-98 and fourth in the Central in ’98-99.

The Bucks started 6-4 again in the 1999-2000 campaign, with Glenn Robinson, Ray Allen and Sam Cassell leading the way. They wound up fifth in the Central Division, but did reach the playoffs, losing to Indiana in the Eastern Conference first round.

Returning most of the same players the following season, the 2000-01 Bucks struggled to a 3-7 start, but steered themselves on a winning course in late November and went on to win the Central Division, make the playoffs and go 10-8, losing in the Eastern Conference Finals, 4 games to 3, to Philadelphia.

Five years later, Milwaukee began the season 6-4 again, with Michael Redd, T.J. Ford and rookie center Andrew Bogut playing lead roles. The team finished fifth in the Central Division and was ousted in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs by Detroit.

In 2007-08, the Bucks got off to another 6-4 start. This time, they wound up fifth in the Central Division and did not make the playoff cut.

In the 44-year history of the franchise, the Bucks have never won the first 10 games of a season, but they did start 9-1 three times.

Their 1970-71 team started 17-1 before winning the Midwest Division, then going 12-2 in the playoffs en route to the NBA championship.

Milwaukee went 17-1 to begin the following campaign as well and captured another Midwest Division title before going 6-5 in the playoffs and losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

The 1973-74 Bucks reeled off 14 wins in their first 15 outings. They won the Midwest Division, posted an 11-5 playoff ledger, losing to Boston in the NBA Finals.
Here is a look at how the Bucks started their previous 43 seasons and where they wound up:

  • 1969-70--6-4 – finished 56-26, second in Eastern Division, went 5-5 in playoffs, lost to NY in Eastern Conference Finals
  • 1970-71--9-1 (17-1) – finished first in Midwest Division, went 12-2 in playoffs, won NBA championship
  • 1971-72--9-1 (17-1) – finished first in Midwest Division, went 6-5 in playoffs, lost to Los Angeles Lakers in Western Conference Finals
  • 1972-73--8-2 – finished first in Midwest Division, 2-4 in playoffs, lost to Golden State in Western Conference Semifinals
  • 1973-74--9-1 (15-1) – finished first in Midwest Division, 11-5 in playoffs, won Western Conference, lost to Boston 4-3 in NBA Finals
  • 1974-75--1-9 – finished fourth in Midwest Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1975-76--5-5 – finished first in Midwest Division, went 1-2 in playoffs (First year without KAJ)
  • 1976-77--2-8 – finished sixth in Midwest Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1977-78--6-4 – finished second in Midwest Division, went 5-4 in playoffs, lost Denver in Western Conference Finals
  • 1978-79--4-6 – finished fourth in Midwest Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1979-80--9-1 – finished first in Midwest Division, 3-4 in playoffs, lost to Seattle in Western Conference Semifinals
  • 1980-81--8-2 – finished first in Central Division, 3-4 in playoffs, lost to Philadelphia in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • 1981-82--7-3 – finished first in Central Division, 2-4 in playoffs, lost to Philadelphia in Eastern Conference semifinals
  • 1982-83--6-4 – finished first in Central Division, 5-4 in playoffs, lost to Philadelphia in Eastern Conference Finals
  • 1983-84--6-4 – finished first in Central Division, 8-8 in playoffs, lost to Boston in Eastern Conference Finals
  • 1984-85--8-2 – finished first in Central Division, 3-5 in playoffs, lost to Philadelphia in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • 1985-86--6-4 – finished first in Central Division, 7-7 in playoffs, lost to Boston in Eastern Conference Finals
  • 1986-87--6-4 – finished third in Central Division, 6-6 in playoffs, lost to Boston in Eastern Conference Semifinals
  • 1987-88--7-3 – finished fourth in Central Division, 2-3 in playoffs, lost to Atlanta in Eastern Conference first round
  • 1988-89--5-5 – finished fourth in Central Division, 3-6 in playoffs, lost to Detroit in Eastern Conference Finals
  • 1989-90--6-4 – finished third in Central Division, 1-3 in playoffs, lost to Chicago in Eastern Conference first round
  • 1990-91--7-3-finished third in Central Division, 0-3 in playoffs, lost to Philadelphia in Eastern Conference first round
  • 1991-92--4-6 – finished sixth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1992-93--7-3 – finished sixth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1993-94--1-9 – finished sixth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1994-95--5-5 – finished sixth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1995-96--3-7 – finished seventh in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1996-97--6-4 – finished seventh in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1997-98--6-4 – finished seventh in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1998-99--6-4 – finished fourth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 1999-00--6-4 – finished fifth in Central Division, 2-3 in playoffs, lost to Indiana in Eastern Conference first round
  • 2000-01--3-7 – finished first in Central Division, 10-8 in playoffs, lost to Philadelphia in Eastern Conference Finals
  • 2001-02--9-1 – finished fifth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 2002-03--5-5 – finished fourth in Central Division, 2-4 in playoffs, lost to New Jersey in Eastern Conference first round
  • 2003-04--5-5 – finished third in Central Division, 1-4 in playoffs, lost to Detroit in Eastern Conference first round
  • 2004-05--3-7 – finished fifth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 2005-06--6-4 – finished fifth in Central Division, 1-4 in playoffs, lost to Detroit in Eastern Conference first round
  • 2006-07--3-7 – finished fifth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 2007-08--6-4 – finished fifth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 2008-09--5-5 – finished fifth in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 2009-10--7-3 – finished second in Central Division, 3-4 in playoffs, lost to Atlanta in Eastern Conference first round
  • 2010-11--5-5 – finished third in Central Division, did not make playoffs
  • 2011-12--4-6 – finished third in Central Division, did not make playoffs