By the end of Monday night, there will only be one undefeated team left in the NBA. That’s because the only two teams to start the season 6-0 will be facing each other as the Toronto Raptors head to Milwaukee to take on the Bucks.
One asterisk on these teams’ perfect start: Neither team has been challenged much on the road. Five of the Raptors six games have come at home; four of the Bucks six games have come at home. Both have had some impressive home wins, like the Raptors beating the Celtics and the Bucks handling the Pacers and the 76ers. But the beginning of each team’s schedule hasn’t exactly been a gauntlet like, say, the Los Angeles Lakers, who’ve played likely playoff teams in five of their first six games. Both of their schedules so far rank in the bottom third of the league in terms of strength of schedule.
The Bucks might be the most surprising team in the NBA two weeks in. New coach Mike Budenholzer has transformed this team into a Giannis-centered spread-the-floor wonder. The offseason additions of Brook Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova played right into that plan. The Bucks are averaging 39.8 three-point attempts per game this season, second-highest in the NBA. (Last season the Bucks ranked 25th with 24.7 three-point attempts per game.) When former president Barack Obama visited Wisconsin recently, he took notice: “Giannis is ballin’,” he said. But the most impressive part hasn’t been Giannis. It’s been the players around him. Khris Middleton has been remarkable, shooting 57.1 percent on seven three-point attempts per game.
We’ll see if the Bucks’ hot start is real, or if it’s just the small early-season sample size of a team with a home-heavy schedule. But right now the Bucks certainly feel real.
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