Can the Milwaukee Bucks really top Michael Jordan’s Bulls and win more than 70 games on their way to a championship?
They proved they can win without superstar talisman Giannis Antentokounmpo this week, beating the Washington Wizards 151-131 to move to an historic 41-6 win-loss record.
And Bucks co-owner Marc Lasry even told Jordan himself the Bucks are going after that 72-10 record the all-time great’s Bulls side set on their way to the 1996 NBA championship.
That mark was famously bettered by the Golden State Warriors in 2016 when they went 73-9… but they choked in the finals against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Many thought the Bucks might have peaked last season when they reached the Eastern Conference finals and lost to eventual champs the Toronto Raptors.
But the Bucks look better than ever with Giannis making a case for MVP and Khris Middleton, who scored a career-high 51 against the Wizards, looking like he could take the next step.
What made the Wizards game even more scary for the rest of the league was, the Bucks had a franchise-record 88 points in the first half.
Khris Middleton has been in great form for the Bucks this season
(Image: USA TODAY Sports)
And they finished with their highest points total of the season, all without Giannis who was resting a shoulder injury, to make it nine wins in a row.
When Lasry met Jordan in Paris for his team’s win over the latter’s Charlotte Hornets, he spoke to the legend about their targets.
Lasry even joked that he told Jordan he was hoping the Bucks get to 80 wins this season, adding that: “everybody sacrifices for the other player. You don’t see that with a lot of NBA teams.”
Can the Bucks beat the win record set by Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls?
Jordan told him to focus on winning the championship rather than going for 70 wins. He knows from experience that chasing that dream can hurt your prospects.
It did for the Bulls earlier in his career – but the 95-96 team was one of the all-time greats. Along with Jordan you had Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and three-point specialist Steve Kerr.
Kerr of course went on to coach the Warriors, and the way they went after 70 wins probably didn’t help them in the long run, though no-one saw their epic finals collapse coming.
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Both those teams were special. Up there with the all-time greats. Do the Bucks compare? It’s hard to argue they have reached that level yet.
But the pain of last season is driving them on, they lead the league in points, field goal percentage, points differential and rebounds. That’s quite a combination.
They are also almost dead certs to win a weak Eastern Conference, and will have a much easier route through the play-offs than anyone in the West.
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But in a finals series against LA’s Clippers or Lakers, or the Denver Nuggets? All bets are off.
For my money the Clippers are still the hot tip to win it all because they have a better, deeper roster (just) and a leader in Kawhi Leonard who has been there and done it before and is probably the best player in the NBA right now.
But the Bucks have a chance. And whether they succeed or fail, it’s going to be fun to watch.