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The Bucks are on pace to reach 70 wins. Can they do it?

The Bucks need 20 wins in their final 24 games.

Giannis Antetokounmpo screams for the Bucks.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are rolling.

The idea of winning 70 games in an NBA season is absurd. It shouldn’t be possible, yet it’s happened twice in the last 25 years. Expecting a team to reach this lofty goal seems like a fool’s errand, but the Milwaukee Bucks are as well set up for milestone reaching as anyone.

Milwaukee has already done most of the heavy lifting on their way to 70. Tuesday night’s win in Toronto — against the Eastern Conference’s current No. 2 seed — was the 50th of the season for the Bucks, against only eight losses. They are just the seventh team in NBA history with at least 50 wins in their first 58 games.

Best 58-game NBA starts

Team Year Thru 58 G Final record
Team Year Thru 58 G Final record
Warriors 2016 53-5 73-9
Bulls* 1996 52-6 72-10
Bulls* 1997 51-7 69-13
Lakers* 1972 50-8 69-13
76ers* 1967 50-8 68-13
76ers* 1983 50-8 65-17
Bucks 2020 50-8 TBD
*won NBA championship Source: Basketball-Reference

The top teams of that group — the 2016 Warriors and 1996 Bulls — are the two 70-win teams in NBA history. Both teams won 20 of their last 24 games. If these Bucks do the same, that puts them at 70-12.

Complacency could be a concern for Milwaukee, with an insurmountable eight-game lead over Toronto for the top seed in the East. The Warriors in 2016 had a close fight with the Spurs out West, with only a four-game advantage through 58 games, and couldn’t rest on their laurels. The 1996 Bulls were up nine games on Orlando for the top spot in the East, but the Sonics were looming six games back for the race for NBA Finals home court advantage. For these Bucks, the Lakers are the only team close, within 5½ games, and Milwaukee has a head-to-head win in hand.

Bucks bonafides

The Bucks had the best record in the NBA last year, too, with 60 wins, but it was a much closer race with Toronto and Golden State. This year though, Milwaukee is much better.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is even better than in his MVP season, already ridiculously efficient while adding a devastating shot to complement his all-around game. He’s the clear favorite for the MVP, again. Khris Middleton is playing like a star after cashing in last summer in free agency.

The Bucks have had winning streaks of 18 and nine games this season, and have yet to lose two games in a row. Their worst 10-game stretch is 7-3, and that was to open the season. The Bucks are equally adept wherever they play, with the best road record in the NBA (24-5) and the second-best home mark (26-3).

Milwaukee is the best rebounding team, they lead the NBA in effective field-goal percentage on both offense and defense, they lead the league in defensive efficiency, and are third in offensive efficiency. The result an eye-popping 34 wins by double digits. The Bucks are outscoring their opponents by 12.22 points per game, trying to become the fourth team in NBA history with a margin of victory of at least 12 points per game. Those other three teams averaged 69 wins, but what would it take for the Bucks to get to 70?

Remaining schedule

The Bucks have 24 games remaining, 12 games at home and 12 on the road. They have three back-to-back sets left on the docket, but Milwaukee is 8-0 this season on the second night of such schedules.

Milwaukee has only lost once this season to a team currently under .500, but they only have 11 games remaining against losing teams. They play the current Nos. 2-5 seeds in the East a total of seven more times, plus have road matchups against the Lakers and Nuggets, the two best records in the West.

Toughest games left for the Bucks

Date Opponent Location Bucks vs. opp. Comments
Date Opponent Location Bucks vs. opp. Comments
Fri, Feb 28 OKC Home 1-0
Mon, Mar 2 Heat Road 0-1 second night of back-to-back
Fri, Mar 6 Lakers Road 1-0
Mon, Mar 9 Nuggets Road 0-1 second night of back-to-back
Thu, Mar 12 Celtics Home 1-1
Mon, Mar 16 Heat Home 0-1
Wed, Mar 25 Rockets Home 1-0
Wed, Apr 1 Raptors Home 2-0
Fri, Apr 3 Raptors Road 2-0
Sun, Apr 5 Celtics Road 1-1
Tue, Apr 7 76ers Road 2-1

Antetokounmpo resting down the stretch for load management or otherwise is probably the biggest threat to the Bucks’ chase for 70 wins, though Milwaukee is 5-1 in games he’s missed this season.

Even at full strength, and even with how good the Bucks are, going 20-4 over any stretch of games is difficult. But with their high level of play and dominance both at home and on the road, Milwaukee is poised to put itself among the pantheon of great NBA regular-season teams.