Bucks reach earliest playoff berth

As the Milwaukee Bucks steam towards the top seed in the Eastern Conference and potentially 70 victories, officially clinching a playoff spot was a mere formality. Their spot in the postseason is now secure, and they made a bit of NBA history in the process.

With the Washington Wizards’ loss Sunday night, the Bucks became the first team to clinch a berth in this season’s playoffs. Feb. 23 is the earliest date on the calendar that a team has clinched in NBA history. Milwaukee bested the previous mark of Feb. 25 set by the Golden State Warriors in 2017.

The Bucks sit atop the East with a league-best 48-8 record after a decisive rout of the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday. They remain on pace for 70 wins, the hallowed mark reached by only two teams in NBA history.

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Milwaukee boasts a league-best point differential of +12.4. The Bucks are first in the league in defensive rating and third in offensive rating, according to NBA.com statistics. Their net rating of 11.8 is the best in the league and nearly five points higher than the Toronto Raptors and Los Angeles Lakers (tied at 7.1).

The playoffs start April 18 — nearly two months from now.

Meanwhile, Giannis Antetokounmpo is producing another MVP-caliber season. The Greek Freak was named the league’s most valuable player last year and has lived up to his reputation so far this year, averaging 30 points, 13.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.1 blocks in just 30.9 minutes per match.

The Bucks currently have a 6.5-game lead over the Toronto Raptors for the No. 1 seed, so the team should have plenty of breathing room to prepare for the playoffs over the next two months.

Milwaukee will be looking to improve on last year’s finish, an Eastern Conference finals loss to the Raptors, and host the Wizards on Monday night.

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