The NBA is wide open this season, as you may have heard pundits say a few thousand times. The era of the superteam is over, and there are half a dozen (or more) teams with a legitimate shot at winning a championship.
Or are there?
Milwaukee beat Boston on Thursday. The Bucks built a 27-point lead in the first half, took a foot off the gas in the third and let the Celtics whittle it to six, started to care again and swelled the lead back to 19 at the end of the quarter before settling for a 128-123 win. The Celtics were down Jaylen Brown (thumb) and on the business end of a back-to-back, but the third best team in the conference never held a lead against the team that has run away with the top spot.
The Bucks were far from flawless. “We’d like to be better for 48 minutes,” Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee’s perpetually exhausted looking 50-year-old coach deadpanned after the game. Indeed, this game had some speed bumps. Kemba Walker torched the Bucks for 24 points in the second quarter, keeping Boston within shouting distance. That 19-point fourth-quarter lead evaporated quickly, and the Celtics were a Marcus Smart missed three away from making it really interesting in the final minute.
But there is so much to like about this Bucks team. In the first half, Milwaukee punked the NBA’s fourth best defense to the tune of 76 points.