Posted on December 31, 2019, by Travis Pulver
Most of the championship talk in the NBA has centered around two teams, the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers. But not without reason, of course. With the additions both made in the offseason, they are undoubtedly going to be in the championship conversation all season.
However, in the process, one team has not been getting as much attention as they deserve—the Milwaukee Bucks. Monday night, they reminded the world just how good they are by doing something that has not been done since the 1980 season.
They recorded their 30th win of the season faster than anyone has since December 1980. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Phoenix Suns and Philadelphia 76ers got it done on December 23 and December 16 of that season.
Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, talked about the accomplishment after Monday night’s 123-102 win over the Chicago Bulls, via ESPN:
“It’s definitely surprising that we won 30 games before January, and it’s cool, but we always can get better. We can always do better, and we’ve got to keep improving because the goal is to play late in the season.”
Antetokounmpo had missed the previous two games due to back soreness but returned to lead the way against the Bulls with 23 points, ten rebounds, and six assists.
While the game was close at the half with Milwaukee up by only three, 55-52, the outcome was never in doubt. The Bucks made that clear in the second half by blowing out the Bulls, 40-25, in the third to take a 95-77 lead into the fourth quarter.
They pushed the lead out to 24-points with a Kyle Korver three with 9:15 left to play before coasting the rest of the way.
Antetokounmpo was one of six guys that scored in double figures for the Bucks, who were led by Khris Middleton with 25 points. Eric Bledsoe returned after missing the last eight games with a leg fracture to score 15 in 16 minutes of playing time.
After the game, he had this to say about his return via ESPN:
“It kind of felt good. Khris missed me like always. He actually shed a little tear, so it was kind of heartwarming a little bit. Nah, it was great. They gave me a lot of flak for missing a couple games, but it was fun.”
Zach LaVine led the way for the Bulls with 19 points, followed by Lauri Markkanen and Coby White with 18. The loss dropped the Bulls record to 13-21 on the season.
The assumption has been that either the Lakers or Clippers would win the NBA Finals this season. But the Bucks have proven that they are still a team to be reckoned with and that the Eastern Conference should not be overlooked.
DraftKings currently has the Clippers, Lakers, and Bucks favored to win the NBA Finals at +300.
Milwaukee is off for New Year’s Eve but will be back in action on New Year’s Day with a home game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.