Milwaukee Bucks: Soft schedule offers opportunity to kick on

The Milwaukee Bucks can look to bounce back from their Christmas Day disappointment with an incredibly favorable stretch of schedule coming up.

The Milwaukee Bucks are sitting pretty at the top of the Eastern Conference, holding the best record in the entire NBA, and yet there’s something uncomfortably unfamiliar about the fact they’ve lost two of their last five games.

That speaks to the Bucks’ absurd dominance through their first 32 games of the season, particularly as they had won 18 consecutive games before the first of those recent losses.

Still, the nature of Milwaukee’s drubbing defeat at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day does feel like a moment that will force the Bucks to regroup, eat a piece of humble pie, and then ready themselves to gear up and go on another strong run.

The good news on that front for the Bucks is that after a couple of weeks when the team’s strength of schedule ramped up in extremes, they now get set to face one of the easier spells of games of their entire season.

The Bucks’ next 11 games come against teams with below .500 records, with the toughest tests in that spell arguably coming against the Portland Trail Blazers and Orlando Magic, both of whom are currently four games below .500.

Going even further to consider Milwaukee’s next 20 games, only the Celtics, Nets, Nuggets, and 76ers can currently boast of records above .500 from the Bucks’ pool of opponents over this sizable chunk of their campaign.

To date on the season, the Bucks are a perfect 18-0 in matchups against below .500 teams. The only other NBA team without a single defeat against those kind of bottom tier teams is the Los Angeles Lakers, who are 16-0 in those contests.

That ability to beat up on the worst teams in the NBA often ends up as a dubious source to criticize good teams — although it’s worth noting the recent noise around the Bucks doing that conveniently ignored the Lakers doing the same — but the truth is it’s also a mark of the most professional and effective teams.

Maintaining that level of consistency and focus is by no means insignificant, and if that helps to build a winning habit, the spill over effect into tougher games should only prove to be a positive too.

With all of this said, mapping out where Milwaukee’s season could be as they cross over the 50-game mark and approach the All-Star break paints a very positive picture.

Even a conservative projection of how the Bucks will fare over this upcoming stretch situates Mike Budenholzer’s team on course to smash past their 60-win total of a year ago. If the Bucks can stay relatively healthy, and possibly even healthier than they have to this point in their season, the final stretch of the regular season could plausibly involve real conversations around whether they should rest or go for 70 wins.

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That puts the Bucks in a position that’s beyond even the lofty demands and expectations that surrounded the team before a single game was played. To stay on that track, they need to continue to take care of business, and to this point there’s no reason to believe they won’t do exactly that in the weeks ahead.

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