Can the Milwaukee Bucks Break a Franchise Record and Go 8-0?

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The Milwaukee Bucks are red-hot this season. They tied a franchise record for perfect starts on Monday with their win over the Toronto Raptors–and they did so without star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Granted, the Raptors didn’t have their star player either. Kawhi Leonard was out for the game as a part of his resting strategy. But regardless, the Bucks are turning heads this season and are a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference. They currently sit at the top of the leaderboards with the only remaining perfect record in the league, and if they win again tonight they’ll set a franchise record for perfect starts: 8-0.

So what’s to account for the Bucks’s success thus far, and what can they do to maintain it tonight against the Celtics?

Trust in Coach Bud

Mike Budenholzer

GettyBucks coach Mike Budenholzer.

First-year Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer seems to have figured something out. The team is mostly intact from last year, but they are playing at a level that has thus-far been unstoppable.

While the players are no doubt talented, Coach Bud’s system seems to be the most common denominator. Their defense is currently the second-best in the league–they encourage the opposition to take low-percentage mid-range shots by keeping them away from the paint and smothering the three.

Something about Coach Bud’s defensive system is working, and the offense is coming together, too: they have the best 3-point shooting offense in the NBA right now.

The players seem to have all subscribed to their new coach’s gameplan. They’re on par with the Houston Rockets three-point percentage–no easy feat considering that last year the team ranked 27th in threes made–and people aren’t hesitating to thank Coach Bud for that drastic change. Something is clicking between the Bucks and their new coach.

Watch the Turnovers

The Bucks’ achilles hill has been turnovers–they currently are third-worst in the league when it comes to the little mistakes that cut possessions short.

If the Bucks can keep the ball in control, they’ll eliminate the biggest thing Boston could use against them. If not, Boston will surely capitalize.

Stymie Irving

Kyrie Irving

GettyKyrie Irving

Star Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving has yet to hit his scoring stride this year, accounting in part for the Boston team’s only two losses. They were the favorite to rule the Eastern Conference heading into the season and their performance thus far has been just a bit below expectations.

They’re on the up-and-up, though, and if Kyrie goes off it could spell doom for the Bucks. Shutting him down and keeping his numbers low will be key.

Besides Irving, Gordon Hayward has been making his way back to his normal numbers of late. Keeping him uncomfortable and not letting him get hot will certainly help the Bucks. They’ll likely force him to drive and meet Giannis at the rim–nobody’s comfortable with that view.

Making Themselves Known

If the Bucks can get off to the 8-0 start they’re hoping for, it’ll be clearer than ever that this team is not to be trifled with. That kind of statement is needed right now in an Eastern Conference that is without LeBron James for the first time ever, leaving a #1 spot wide open for the taking after fifteen years of dominance.

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