How the Milwaukee Bucks can maintain their hot start

NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports)
NBA star Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Brook Lopez David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports
Brook Lopez David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports /

Milwaukee Bucks: Elite Defense

In basketball circles, it is often said that securing the rebound is the last act of a successful defensive possession. The Milwaukee Bucks have fully bought into this mantra, leading the league with 39.1 defensive rebounds per game. While the importance of offensive rebounds is often highlighted, rarely do pundits stress the enormous impact that defensive boards can have on a game.

While offensive rebounds provide second-shot opportunities, defensive rebounds prevent the other team from getting additional looks at the basket, thus keeping their shot attempts low and stopping scoring outbursts before they happen. The team has also become elite in the area of rim protection.

Currently, they are third in the league to the Brooklyn Nets in blocks per game, averaging an impressive 6.7 per contest. Brook Lopez is leading the charge, averaging an astonishing 2.6 blocks per game in this young season. At this pace, he will be a part of Defensive Player of the Year conversations, which is a far cry from his younger days when he was seen as a defensive liability.

It’s not just the team’s frontcourt that has bought into playing hard on the defensive side of the ball; the backcourt has proven to be equally pesky, leading the team to be one of the best in the league in steals per game. Veteran point guard Jevon Carter leads the charge with 1.8 steals per game, while Jrue Holiday is slightly behind him with 1.6 per contest.

Those numbers translate to mean that on a nightly basis, the team’s top two perimeter defenders will accumulate three to four steals combined. That thought alone is enough to give opposing point guards and head coaches nightmares.