Giannis, Bucks Secure 2020 NBA Playoff Berth; Earliest Clinch in 15 Years

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistFebruary 24, 2020

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo dunks during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Philadelphia 76ers Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Morry Gash/Associated Press

NBA teams aren't supposed to clinch playoff spots in February.

Nobody told that to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Milwaukee clinched a spot in the postseason for the fourth straight year thanks to the Chicago Bulls' 126-117 victory over the Washington Wizards on Sunday. According to Elias Sports (h/t ESPN), the 48-8 Bucks are the earliest team to clinch a spot in the playoffs in at least 15 years with the playoffs still 55 days out.

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If the Bucks continue at their current pace, they will join the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls and 2015-16 Golden State Warriors as the only teams in NBA history to win 70 or more games. The Bulls won the championship, but Golden State lost the NBA Finals that season to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Milwaukee is 6.5 games ahead of the second-seeded Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference, the same team it lost to in last season's Eastern Conference Finals.

A major difference this time around is the fact that Kawhi Leonard, who helped slow Giannis Antetokounmpo, is on the Los Angeles Clippers now. Toronto has still impressed and played at a much higher level than many expected, but the Bucks are the class of the league at this point.

Antetokounmpo is the primary reason and appears on his way to a second straight MVP behind per-game averages of 30.0 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals per game while shooting 55.2 percent from the field.

He is just 25 years old but is already a Bucks legend who could cement his position in franchise lore forever by leading the team to its first championship since 1971.


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