The Bucks (41-6) are on pace to win 71.5 games.
In other words, they have a chance to pass the 2015-16 Warriors (73-9) and 1995-96 Bulls (72-10) for the best regular-season record in NBA history.
Bucks owner Marc Lasry, via Eric Woodyard of ESPN:
“When I was in Paris, I was talking to Michael about this, and I said, ‘Well, what do you think? I think we’ve got a real shot at doing what you guys have done [win 70 games]. This is a really unique team.’
“And he goes, ‘Look, my advice to you is don’t focus on beating our record, focus on winning a championship.’ And I said, ‘Wow, that’s great. Thank you for that. Just so you know, we’re going to focus on beating your record and winning a championship.’ I think we should do everything, but that’s me.”
That runs counter to the message from his general manager.
Jon Horst, via Woodyard:
“We’re not chasing wins. I do think that playoff seeding matters,” Horst told Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski on this week’s episode of his SiriusXM show, “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K.”
“I think our seeding matters and we want to be intentional and careful about how we end up seedingwise, but we’re not chasing total wins,” he said.
“What we’re chasing is we want to be an NBA champion. We want to be better than we were last year. Last year we fell short of the Finals, this year we want to get to the Finals. We want to get there healthy. We want to be playing well. As I think you would tell anyone, that if you’re healthy, if you’re good enough and you catch enough breaks along the way you can win it. And that’s where we want to be positioned to hope to be able to do.”
This sounds like Lasry taking advantage of a rare opportunity to mouth off to Michael freaking Jordan while allowing his basketball operations to run the team.
Chasing 70 wins or more can be exhausting. Golden State didn’t win the championship in 2016. Though we can never know what would have happened if the Warriors relaxed more in the regular season, it’s hard to believe their pursuit of the record didn’t contribute to them blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals. It just takes so much energy to win that much in the regular season then throughout the playoffs.
I doubt the Bucks have it in them. Even a small slump would eliminate Milwaukee from the 70-win chase.
Can the Bucks win the title this year? Absolutely. That should be – and likely is – their overwhelmingly predominant goal. The Bulls and Warriors didn’t win 70 games until their cores already won a championship.
But when the owner is spouting off like this, it’s at least worth watching how it affects the front office, coaching staff and roster.