But that doesn’t mean the team can’t get better, especially in the postseason, where the Bucks have made early exits in the Eastern Conference finals and Eastern Conference semifinals.
“I don’t think we change the way we approach it because it’s been working the last two years. We’ve won a lot of games and we’ve created winning habits,” Antetokounmpo said Monday. “Obviously, I think we’ve got to get better. We throw a first punch. We’ve got to throw a second punch and the second punch is gotta be better in the playoffs so you’ve got to basically do what you do in the regular season, you’ve got to carry over in the playoffs then you’ve got to do it even better.”
Milwaukee has ended with the best record in the league for two consecutive seasons, but has fallen short of the NBA Finals. The Bucks have not won a title since 1970-71 and haven’t made it to the championship round since 1973-74.
With Antetokounmpo locked up to a max contract extension, the Bucks are making their push now. They’ve looked to upgrade their roster this offseason with former All-Star Jrue Holiday, in addition to veterans Bobby Portis, Bryn Forbes, Torrey Craig and D.J. Augustin.
Antetokounmpo and Holiday allowed the lowest and fifth-lowest field goal percentage among 167 players to defend at least 500 shots last season, according to Second Spectrum. Antetokounmpo is entering his eighth season with the same fire and intensity after averaging a career-high 29.5 points and 13.6 rebounds with 5.6 assists per game last season.
He insisted that he and his squad won’t change their mindset. Instead, he’s committed to making his teammates better and to lead by example.
“Obviously, I’ve got to be more vocal as a leader. They want to hear my voice, but I’ve done this my whole career, my whole life. I just lead by example and that’s who I am,” Antetokounmpo said. “When I go out on the court, I set the tone. I work hard. I take everything serious. I respect my teammates. I respect my coaches. I remain coachable. If I’m coachable, everybody’s coachable.
“If I want to get better, everybody wants to get better. And I know a lot of people are looking at what I do and it starts from the locker room. Like every day, when I get in the locker room, I try to be serious and let them know that we’re not here to play around and we have the goal in our head which is to be better today and hopefully that can help us win a championship, but I’m the same. I lead by example. That’s what people can relate more to.”
The Bucks will open the season on the road Wednesday against the Boston Celtics, then return home to play Golden State on Christmas Day.