Image via Stacy Revere/Getty Images
By Peyton Anderson
As the NBA regular season nears its end and we inch closer and closer to the start of the playoffs, now seems as good of a time as any to have the same discussion that has taken place for the last four seasons: Who is going to stop the Warriors? Several teams are making their case, but the answer is clear. Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks are the best, and perhaps the only, bet to prevent Steph Curry and the Warriors from earning a three-peat.
The Bucks (47-14) currently hold the best record in the league, thanks in large part to the MVP numbers being put up by Antetokounmpo. We can talk all day about the greatness that Giannis displays on a nightly basis, but it’s the pieces around him that make this team special. Khris Middleton‘s shooting earned him his own invitation to this year’s All-Star weekend. Malcolm Brogdon is quietly having his best statistical season yet, providing solid perimeter defense and shooting from the two-guard spot. The thing that separated them from the pack was the acquisition of Nikola Mirotic from the New Orleans Pelicans in early February. His production from the sixth-man role adds to the long list of weapons this team has on its roster. Add in Eric Bledsoe at point guard and guys like Brook Lopez, Tony Snell, and Ersan Ilyasova, it is clear that this team isn’t lacking in production, depth, experience, or most importantly, chemistry.
If the roster alone isn’t convincing enough, take a look at how they have performed this season, particularly against other top title contenders. Scoring is not an issue for the Bucks, as they are second in the league in points per game, shooting percentage, and three-pointers made per game. They are also elite defensively, leading the league in defensive efficiency. Their efforts on both sides of the ball have led them to the best record in the NBA, and it is evident in their games against other top teams looking to tighten the gap Milwaukee has created in terms of total wins. The Buck own a 2-1 record against the other big threat from the Eastern Conference in the Raptors, multiple wins over Western Conference threats such as the Nuggets and Trail Blazers, and split the two-game series between the team that stands in their way of winning a title, the Golden State Warriors. The culmination of statistical production along with the performances they have had this season against other great teams are what separate this Bucks team from all other teams looking to accomplish something that only LeBron James has been able to do in the last four years: stopping the Golden State Warriors.