MILWAUKEE — The street to the 2023 NBA championship goes by way of Milwaukee. With a cushty 105-92 win over the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night time, the Milwaukee Bucks improved to 58-22 on the season, clinched the perfect document within the league, and No. 1 total seed within the playoffs.
“It’s only a credit score to the gamers,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer stated. “The gamers have actually stepped up; they’ve embraced the problem. Night in and night time out on this league is difficult. There’s nice opposition and we need to be our greatest. To have the perfect document is one thing that issues and is essential.”
Though the Bucks began the season 9-0, a mid-season stoop and an array of accidents left them as little as fourth place within the Eastern Conference. By late January, they had been 5.5 video games behind the Boston Celtics for the highest spot. Then they flipped a change. From Jan. 23 to March 1, they gained 16 video games in a row to tie the third-longest profitable streak in franchise historical past, and since that date, they’re 29-5.
They’ve largely been wholesome throughout this latest sizzling stretch, nevertheless it was becoming in a means that they clinched the perfect document in a sport that they performed with out Giannis Antetokounmpo and (for essentially the most half) Khris Middleton. Few prime groups have had as many absences because the Bucks this season. No one on the staff has performed in each sport, whereas Middleton (47 video games), Antetokounmpo (17), and Holiday (13) have all missed intensive time. That huge three has solely been collectively for twenty-four video games.
“We acquired plenty of guys that may play, plenty of guys that may step as much as the event,” Wesley Matthews stated. “It’s an 82-game season. It’s a grind. Unfortunately, this sport has accidents. Guys have been out and in of the lineup — I do not know what number of rotations, or what number of beginning lineups we have had over the course of this season.
“For us to have 58 wins and clinch the No. 1 total is a testomony to everybody’s character in that locker room and the willpower to be the final staff standing. What we did tonight, thus far this season, has been a terrific feat. There’s pleasure. It’s nothing to dismiss. Only one staff may be the No. 1 total seed, and we had been in a position to try this. But we nonetheless have our sights set greater and it is one sport at a time nonetheless.”
The greater aim forward of the Bucks is one other championship. They absolutely consider they might have repeated if Middleton did not go down with a knee damage within the first spherical, however one other issue of their second-round exit was coasting to the No. 3 seed. As a end result, they needed to go to Boston for Game 7 within the second spherical and had been blown out by 28 factors. Now, they will have home-court benefit all through the playoffs.
“Obviously, having Game 7s at dwelling are gonna be huge and issues like that if it goes seven video games,” Bobby Portis stated. “It’s quite a bit completely different staying in resort rooms than being at dwelling, so clearly, that is a terrific factor to have.”
The Bucks have earned the correct to take a breath and regroup forward of the playoffs, however come April 15, they will must be proper again to the extent they’ve performed at for two-plus months. The Celtics, Sixers, Nuggets, and even the Cavaliers, Grizzlies, Suns, and Warriors will all consider they’ve what it takes to get their arms on the Larry O’Brien trophy too.
Rightfully so, however to take action, they will have to come back by way of Milwaukee.
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