The 2022-23 NBA season is coming down to a wire, and each game could have a serious impact on the standings. With a bit more of a week left in the regular season, the playoff picture is getting into shape. As expected, organizations such as the Milwaukee Bucks are at the top of their conferences and are already frontrunners for the title.
So far, the Bucks have a 55-21 record, the best in the league. Most notably, Milwaukee had a 16-game winning streak, which included a perfect 10-0 in February. This is the best streak by any team this season and is Milwaukee’s third-best mark in franchise history.
Last season, the Bucks fell to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, failing to win back-to-back NBA Finals. With hopes of bringing another Larry O’Brien Trophy home, Milwaukee has a long road to go.
Still, based on what the team showing in the past few months, fans might be thinking another title is a real possibility. With that being said, here are three reasons why the Milwaukee Bucks can win the 2023 NBA Finals.
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3. Home-court advantage
One thing that could certainly help the Bucks in the postseason is their fans. If the season ended as it currently is, Milwaukee would have the best record in the East and the entire league. This means that the team would have home-court advantage against any potential opponent, including in the NBA Finals.
The Bucks are currently 3.0 games ahead of the Boston Celtics, and they play each other on Friday. A win could cement Milwaukee at the top of the standings.
While they are having a great season overall, the Bucks are even more impressive when playing at the Fiserv Forum. When playing away, they have a 25-14 record. At home, Milwaukee is 30-7.
For comparison, in the shortened 2020-21 season when they won the title, the Bucks finished 26-10 when playing at home in the regular season. In the playoffs, they went 10-1 at the Fiserv Forum en route to a championship.
Should they continue their dominance at home, they could be closer to their second title in three years. By opening all playoff series in Milwaukee, they could potentially start 2-0, which would be very difficult to revert. Worst-case scenario, the Bucks would still play a Game 7 at home.
2. The supporting cast is having a big season
While most eyes are on Giannis Antetokounmpo, many of the other Milwaukee players are having big seasons.
Brook Lopez is averaging 15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. He is shooting 52.6% from the field, 37.2% from the 3-point line, and 78.1% from the charity stripe. Most importantly, he is blocking 2.5 shots a night, carving his name in the battle for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award.
Jrue Holiday is also having a solid year. He is putting up 19.4 points, 7.3 assists and 5.0 boards plus 1.2 steals per game. His shooting splits are 48-38-86. Thanks to his performances, he earned the second All-Star nod of his career, 10 years after being selected for the first time, the longest gap between selections in NBA history.
After dealing with injuries early this season, Khris Middleton seems to be getting back to his rhythm. He is scoring 15.5 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.4 rebounds on 44-32-90 shooting splits. He has come off the bench in 16 out of the 30 games he has played.
With Lopez and Holiday plus a healthy Middleton, the Bucks have three reliable offensive options if Antetokounmpo is ever having a bad day. Also, the trio, especially Lopez and Holiday, provide solid defense, which can come in handy against players such as Jayson Tatum or Joel Embiid in the playoffs.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo is having an MVP-level year
At the end of the day, Milwaukee’s success still heavily relies on Giannis Antetokounmpo. Fortunately for the Bucks, the Greek Freak is having another big season, even receiving some buzz for his third MVP.
This season, he is recording a career-high 31.2 points, 11.8 boards, and 5.7 assists. He is making 55.3% of his field goals, 28.5% of his 3-pointers, and 64.8% of his free-throw attempts. He is also averaging 0.8 blocks and 0.8 steals per contest.
In 16 games without Antetokounmpo this season, the Bucks are just 10-6. This includes losses to the rebuilding San Antonio Spurs and to the struggling Miami Heat.
Even with Lopez and Holiday having some of the best seasons of their careers, it all comes down to Antetokounmpo. Without his elite play, it will be very difficult to see Milwaukee returning to the NBA Finals.
But, if Antetokounmpo remains healthy for the postseason, the Bucks are legit contenders. With him, they are one of the scariest teams in the league, both on offense and defense.
All things considered, Giannis Antetokounmpo is the No. 1 reason why the Bucks can win the NBA Finals in 2023.