After their beatdown of the Toronto Raptors north of the border raised their record to 50-8, the talk of whether the Milwaukee Bucks will reach 70 victories has gotten louder.
Only two teams have done it in NBA history: the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) and the 2015-16 Golden State Warriors (73-9). Michael Jordan was the primary reason for the first 70-win total, Steph Curry bet was the primary reason for the second 70-win total, and Giannis Antetokounmpo is the guy who has been leading the Bucks to the best record in the NBA this season.
The Bucks’ over/under win total has been sitting at 69.5 for some time now, but DraftKings Sportsbook has decided to up the ante a notch by increasing it to 70 this week. If the Bucks win 71 or more games, the “over” wins at +130 odds. If they fail to win 70, the “under” wins at -155. Exactly 70 wins is a push.
“We got some early action on the over,” said Johnny Avello, Head of Sportsbook at DraftKings. “I think we’ll eventually get money both ways, but the bettors wanted the plus.”
How they can get to 70
The Bucks are the feel-good story of the NBA season that has been filled with dark moments, including the deaths of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, the passing of former commissioner David Stern and the early-season injury to Steph Curry that knocked the Golden State Warriors out of contention long before Thanksgiving.
Still, getting to 70 is going to take some doing.
At 50-8, the Bucks are on pace to get to 70. They have not lost back-to-back games all season, and their point differential of 12.2 is nearly 5 points higher than that of the Los Angeles Lakers.
But their margin of error is incredibly slim, allowing for only four losses over the remaining 26 games.
“If they lose the price will move very heavy to the under,” Avello said. “Right now, they are clearly the best team in the NBA. But the goal is to win the championship, not to win 70, so it will be interesting.”
Let’s take a look at what the schedule holds for Milwaukee after they close February with a game against the surprising Oklahoma City Thunder:
March: They have only two back-to-backs, but the first is a road back-to-back against Charlotte and Miami. The Heat have played Milwaukee only once this season, winning 131-126 in overtime in the second game of the season. At 23-3, the Heat have the third-best home record in the NBA behind Philadelphia and Milwaukee. The second-back-to-back comes March 8-9 against Phoenix and Denver as part of a three-games-in-four-nights Western jaunt that begins with a matchup against the West-leading Lakers.
Boston, Miami, Houston and Dallas (all but the Mavericks game will be played in Brew City) are the four toughest games among the Bucks’ final nine games of the month.
April: The month begins with a home-and-home against the Raptors, followed by road games at Boston and Philadelphia — easily the toughest four-game stretch Milwaukee will have over the remainder of the regular season. Brooklyn, Cleveland and Atlanta are games 69, 70 and 71, and the season ends on Wednesday, April 15 on the road against the Nets.
“They are going to have to go 21-3 to hit the over, and they have a lot of tough games,” said Avello. “And even if they win all of those tough ones, are they going to go all-out and try to win the meaningless ones at the end when they might be better off resting players?
“It’s a fun bet, and we’ll keep adjusting it day by day for the next four or five weeks. I think we’ll get money both ways, but the early money came in on the over.”
Usually, early money is called “sharp” money.
And the “sharps” think 70 can be done.
Only time will tell, but the Bucks are making this sad season worth watching.