The Milwaukee Bucks made NBA history on Monday night. With their blowout 132-88 victory over the New York Knicks in conjunction with their 137-96 shellacking of the Charlotte Hornets Saturday, they became only the fifth team in NBA history to win consecutive games by at least 40 points each.
The catch? They are the second team to do so within the past two weeks. The Dallas Mavericks accomplished the feat in November by beating the Golden State Warriors 142-94 and the Cleveland Cavaliers 143-101. Prior to these two instances, the last team to accomplish the feat was the 1993-94 New York Knicks. The 1992-93 Sacramento Kings (who won only 25 games during the entire season) and the 1988-89 Phoenix Suns are the other two teams to have matched those stretches.
So, how did the Bucks and Mavericks manage to join such a historic list so early in their careers? It doesn’t hurt to have arguably the two MVP favorites leading the way. Giannis Antetokounmpo won the award last season for the Bucks. If Luka Doncic doesn’t win it for the Mavericks this year, he will in the not-too-distant future. But having great players isn’t enough. The style of today’s game means a great deal as well.
The Mavericks made a staggering 42 3-pointers during their dominant two-game stretch. Those 1992-93 Kings, by contrast, averaged only 3.2 per game. The Bucks made 36, but those attempts, as most of Milwaukee’s have been in recent years, were facilitated by Antetokounmpo’s dominance at the rim. The Bucks 64.1 percent on 2-point attempts during this streak. The modern game’s reliance on 3-pointers allows teams to build bigger leads. If the opposing team isn’t hitting its own shots, blowouts like this become possible. The proliferation of those 3-pointers also opens up the floor for players like Antetokounmpo to attack the rim.
That won’t make streaks like this common any time soon, but it does make them likelier. All it takes to win two games by this many points is two extremely hot shooting nights and two very cold ones from an opponent. As the league drifts more and more heavily towards long-range shooting as its primary mode of offense, such occurrences will become more frequent.