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The Bucks Have Been Historically Great So Far This Season
It was one of those post-game interviews with Giannis on the court right after the game, and the question about 70 wins came up, and he dismissed it and moved on. I can’t even remember which game it was, it was after yet another win and the wins are getting harder to keep track of as they pile up, blurring together like all the inevitable “Giannis has been named Eastern Conference Player of the Month” announcements.
All-Star Weekend is very much not the midpoint of the season. We are nearly 2/3 of the way through the regular season, and the Bucks are on pace for approximately 70 wins. So the question about 70 wins was and is not at all unreasonable. Yes, players are always going to take games one at a time, but the Bucks are on pace to do something that just two teams in NBA history have done. This is notable! Wilt’s Sixers never did it. Kareem’s Bucks (and Lakers) never did it. Bird’s Celtics never did it. Magic’s Lakers never did. Shaq’s and Kobe’s Lakers never did it. Duncan’s Spurs never did it. LeBron’s Heat (and Cavaliers and Lakers) never did it. Not even Durant’s Warriors did it.
The Bucks need to go 24–4 over the final 28 games to make it to 70.
The Bucks don’t need to make it to 70 for this to be a successful season, and that is what Giannis certainly had in mind when the question came up. We saw what happened to the 73-win Warriors. And after leading 2–0 in the Eastern Conference Finals last season against the eventual champs, Giannis and the Bucks know how close they were and are to winning a championship, and that is what matters. It is beautifully reassuring, and aligns with everything we have come to expect and appreciate, that Giannis has his eyes on that.
The Bucks are on pace for 70 wins though. They are not, contrary to what some thought for some reason, Coach Budenholzer’s 60-win Hawks team (a very good team coached by a very good coach). They would have to go 14–14 the rest of the way to win 60.
Right now, they are on pace to rank number 3 in regular season wins in league history, and I just scrolled through a lot of Basketball-Reference.com pages to find out that including this year there will have been 1,573 team seasons played in league history by the end of this season.
If they win 70 games, they will be in the smaller slice below.
When you get into comparing the greatness of teams in this historically elite category, you might use point differential as a tiebreaker of sorts, to see how dominant a team has been in all of those wins. If the Bucks keep going at the pace they are going, they will be just a touch ahead of the 73-win Warriors in terms of NET Rating, and just a touch behind the 72-win Bulls.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other. They can do something historical in the regular season, and it doesn’t mean they can’t do something historical in the playoffs.
The Bucks have cruised to a 70-win pace, as shown by point differential, and by the fact that they don’t have anyone playing even 31 minutes a night. Giannis leads the team in minutes per game, and he ranks 63rd in the league (right behind Danuel House Jr.). The 73-win Warriors had four players averaging as many or more minutes as Giannis. The 72-win Bulls had three, including two guys (Jordan and Pippen) who averaged 36+ minutes per game.
The Bucks are virtually just as dominant on the road (21–5) as at home (25–3). They are the only team in the league with a top three ranking in both offense and defense. The Bucks statistically have the best bench in the league, and statistically have the best starters in the league.
They also have the best player in the league. Giannis should win his second MVP in a row this season, and speaking of that, he speaks about his reigning MVP status the same way he talks about 70 wins which is the same way he talked about his stats when I tried to bring them up to him five years ago. Which is to say, he doesn’t get into those things, because he has been and is on to something more, even more than 70 wins, which he might be on to too.