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The Milwaukee Bucks aren't quite in historic territory yet. By winning their 16th straight game on Wednesday, they joined a group of 34 teams in NBA history with streaks at least that long. That list whittles down very, very quickly. Only 24 teams have reached 17 wins in a row, and only 17 have reached 18 straight wins. By the time you get to 19 wins in a row, the list is only 10 deep, and at 20? We're down to single digits with only six teams. 

So the Bucks may not be threatening the record books quite yet, but they're not far off, either. Of course, this is hardly unfamiliar territory to Giannis Antetokounmpo. His Bucks won nine straight games to open the season, and this isn't even the longest winning streak of his career. The 2019-20 Bucks took 18 games in a row.

Milwaukee knows how much harder each win becomes at this stage. There's a reason that -- of the 34 teams that have gotten this far -- only one club, the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers, have ever gotten another 16 en route to a dizzying string of 33 games. Milwaukee's pursuit of history begins in earnest on Saturday, so let's take a look at their upcoming schedule to figure out just how far the Bucks can take this thing.

The toughest one yet

On Saturday, the Bucks will host the Philadelphia 76ers in a possible Eastern Conference Finals preview. Philly is one of the few teams in the NBA with a physical match for Antetokounmpo in Joel Embiid. They won their most recent matchup against the Bucks all the way back in November. So is this streak going to end over the weekend?

In all likelihood, the answer is no. The first two games these two teams played were in Philadelphia. Saturday's game is in Milwaukee, where the Bucks are 27-5 and haven't lost since Jan. 6. Milwaukee has the rest advantage as Philadelphia plays on Thursday. But most importantly, this is just a matchup Milwaukee has owned. The Bucks are 10-4 against the 76ers since they hired Mike Budenholzer as their head coach. With that in mind, we can comfortably favor Milwaukee to reach its 17 straight win.

The lighter stretch

Milwaukee follows Philadelphia with three fairly winnable games. Here they are in order:

  • The Bucks go to Washington on Sunday, March 5, to face the Wizards. This is probably the hardest game of the three. It's the second night of a back-to-back, and Khris Middleton has not played both ends of a back-to-back yet this season. Expect him to suit up against Philadelphia and sit this one out. It's a road game as well, but given the overwhelming talent disparity, the Bucks should still be in good shape.
  • They head to Orlando on Tuesday, March 7. Care to guess when Orlando last beat Milwaukee head-to-head in a regular-season game? It was Feb. 9, 2019. The Magic are now 21-17 since starting 5-20, but Milwaukee just rocked Orlando by 22 points on Wednesday.
  • The Bucks go home on Thursday, March 9, for a game against the Nets. Brooklyn outscored them 28-13 in the first few minutes of Monday's matchup, but proceeded to be outscored 105-76 the rest of the way.

These aren't necessarily gimmes, but the Bucks can win these games and possibly get to 20 without much trouble. Here's where things get harder:

The streak breakers

Assume for a moment that the Bucks do get to 20. Time to head west and tangle with three of the most dangerous teams in the league:

  • Not only will Stephen Curry likely be back by the time the Bucks play the Warriors in San Francisco on March 11, but Golden State is going to have a bit of extra motivation in this one. As you may recall, the Milwaukee Bucks were the team that ended Golden State's 24-game winning streak to start the 2015-16 season. If the Bucks come into their building at 20 straight wins, the Warriors are going to do everything in their power to make sure it doesn't get to 21.
  • Two days later, the Bucks will attempt to prevent the Kings from lighting the beam. Despite Sacramento's No. 3 seed and 18-12 home record, this is probably the easiest game of the trio. Why? Well …
  • On the second night of a Western Conference back-to-back, the Bucks head to Phoenix to face Kevin Durant and the Suns. Granted, this will be the second night of a back-to-back for Phoenix as well, and strangely, their two preceding opponents are identical to Milwaukee's (Sacramento on March 11, Golden State on March 13), but with home-court advantage, the Suns are going to be very tough to beat.

The safest bet here is that the winning streak ends somewhere in this group of games. If it doesn't? Things get a bit easier.

The rest of the way

The Bucks have a nice and easy four-game stretch following their West Coast trip: home dates with the Pacers, Raptors and Spurs followed by a road game in Salt Lake City against the Jazz. Those easier games are followed by a string of tougher ones. Win No. 28 would have to come on the road in Denver, where the Nuggets are 28-4. Win No. 31 would come at home against the Celtics, and win No. 32 would be a home battle with the 76ers. No. 33? At Washington. And should they claim the record-breaking 34th consecutive win, it would come at home against the Bulls on April 5.

Are they going to get there? No, probably not. But the Bucks have already reclaimed the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference thanks to this streak, and the longer they keep it up, the likelier it becomes that they earn home-court advantage throughout the NBA playoffs. That's a consolation prize that would suit the Bucks just fine. A historic winning streak would be nice, but a far more desired prize would be a second championship in three years.