Looks like the Milwaukee Bucks revenge tour has started as they are the only team undefeated after two weeks of NBA action. After losing to the Boston Celtics in the playoffs, the Bucks have come out with a sense of purpose to start this season.
They are currently 7-0, tying their best start in the 1971-72 and 2018-19 seasons, and they are doing this without their No. 2 player Khris Middleton. They’ve also played some games without key role players like Serge Ibaka, George Hill, Wesley Matthews, or Pat Connaughton.
So how are they doing it?
We have to get this out of the way early. Milwaukee has had one of the most favorable schedules to start the season. Six of their seven games were at home and only two of their opponents were currently in the top eight of the East (Philadelphia and Atlanta). This may be one of the shallow reasons but it still has to be put into consideration for their good start.
Change in defense scheme
The Bucks typically play a pack-style defense, which leads them to be one of the league leaders in 3-pointers allowed. This is in contradiction to how other teams play as they want to limit the amount of 3s their opponents take.
This year, the Bucks now are at the top of the league in limiting 3-point attempts. Opposing teams are making just 10.3 3s (4th) on 34 percent (13th). On top of this, they are No.1 in defensive rating, points allowed, and opposing field-goal percentage. What makes this scary is that it is much easier to maintain defensive consistency throughout the year compared to the offensive side of the floor.
As I mentioned earlier, several key players have been out for the Bucks but they’ve managed to overcome it. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been amazing: 33-12-5 with almost 3 stocks (steals and blocks) on 57 percent field-goal shooting. It’s just amazing and he’s putting in another MVP-caliber season.
Jrue Holiday, who has overcome some early shooting struggles, is averaging about 20-5-8 with 2.5 stocks. Brook Lopez is chipping in around 15 points and seven rebounds with 2.5 3s and 3.3 blocks per game. These are numbers from a 34-year-old player who had back surgery.
They even have Bobby Portis and his 13-10 coming off the bench. The team also has sprinkles of Grayson Allen, Jevon Carter, Jordan Nwora, and their bench mob. Tapping into your bench and having the trust that they will perform allows them to go out and play better. This is seen in the trust that they have in one another on and off the court.
Overall, the Bucks are still a top contender in the East with Boston. Brooklyn is still trying to figure things out. Philadelphia has some injury issues to deal with. Will Toronto be able to go the distance with how they play? Is Cleveland good enough? Milwaukee is a team that has the least amount of questions regarding their path to the NBA Finals. Once they are complete, it will be a different question but right now, I do see the Bucks continuing this hot start. My bold prediction will be that Milwaukee will finish No.1 in the East at the end of the season.