It hasn’t been the smoothest ride for the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks so far this season, as they sit fifth in the East with a record of 36-24 at the all-star break. They are just 2.5 games out of first place, but also 2.5 games away from being a play-in team in the extremely deep and packed Eastern Conference.
Overall, they’ve struggled to find a lot of consistency. There have been several winning streaks in these first four months — an 8-game win streak in late November, a 6-game win streak in late December, and they recently won 8 of 10 games from January 19th to February 8th — but there have also been rough stretches, such as a 1-5 stretch early in the season and a 2-6 stretch in January.
There have been plenty of frustrating games and losses to teams that the Bucks should beat, as 10 of their losses have been to teams currently with a losing record. However, even with the frustrations, there are reasons to trust in the champs going forward and believe that they can end the season the same way they did last year.
Reason No. 1 – The Milwaukee Bucks are still really good when the “Big 3” plays
It’s worth noting that 17 of the Bucks’ 24 losses this season have been in games where one of either Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, or Jrue Holiday didn’t play. In games where all three play, they are 24-7, and in games they don’t, they are 12-17. That alone should be an indicator that the Bucks should be just fine — when the main guys play, they usually win. Simple.
With Antetokounmpo, Holiday, and Middleton all on the court together this season, the Bucks are outscoring their opponents by 11.5 points per 100 possessions, according to NBA.com/stats. For reference, that’s better than the Phoenix Suns with Paul/Booker/Ayton (4.7), the Chicago Bulls with DeRozan/LaVine/Vucevic (6.2), and the Golden State Warriors with Curry/Wiggins/Draymond (11.1).
The Bucks still have never been fully healthy this season. They have been without Brook Lopez all year, which has created the need for them to fill the hole at center with players like DeMarcus Cousins and Serge Ibaka, and they now have issues at guard with injuries to Pat Connaughton and George Hill, causing them to acquire DeAndre’ Bembry. Essentially, the closest we’ve seen to the full-strength Bucks this year has been when Giannis, Khris, and Jrue play, and when that happens, they are very good. There’s really nothing better to go off of than those 31 games they’ve played together, and a 77.4 win percentage is a very good sign.