The Milwaukee Bucks have started to solidify themselves as the definitive second-best contender in the Eastern Conference. Giannis Antetokounmpo and his squad have won seven out of their last 10 games. This starts a steady ascent to contest the Boston Celtics come the postseason. A huge reason Doc Rivers' system has been doing better is the effort most players exert on defense. Patrick Beverley even noted that Damian Lillard has been phenomenal on that end of the floor, via the Pat Bev Pod.

“I go up to Dame today like, ‘Hey, you got straps?' He goes, ‘Yeah, I play defense when I have to but I have been in situations where I ain't have to.' He has been really good defensively. It's a will. Defense is all will. He wants to win, he wants a championship, he wants to be really good,” Patrick Beverley discussed.

Damian Lillard is not exactly known for his defense. His offensive prowess often overwhelms opponents enough that he can sag off them. But, the Bucks have instilled a different mindset on him and it is starting to work, albeit slowly. The defense that Giannis Antetokounmpo anchors has a 114.8 rating. This is good for being ranked 15th in the league. With their perimeter defense constantly improving due to the Bucks guards like Lillard and Beverley, it might not take a long while for them to get higher on the list.

Lillard's first year with the Bucks

Milwaukee Bucks guard Damian Lillard (0) guards Charlotte Hornets guard Tre Mann (23) on the dribble during the second half at Spectrum Center
© Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The year following the trade did not net the Bucks their expected outcome. Lillard has even publicly stated that he thought they would be the ones atop the Eastern Conference ladder by now and not the Celtics. Nonetheless, this team has adjusted well despite shakeups in the squad. The biggest of which was when they parted ways with Adrian Griffin and installed a new system with Doc Rivers.

Regardless of all this noise, Lillard has constantly produced for the Bucks. He is putting up 24.2 points on an insane 43.8% field goal shooting clip. This along with 4.2 rebounds and 6.7 assists make him one of the toughest guards in the league. Will he retain this momentum entering the postseason?