For the first time in four years the Milwaukee Bucks are set to advance to the NBA playoffs, and Australian centre Andrew Bogut is leading the charge.
Bogut, selected first overall in the 2005-06 draft, is in the midst of a career year and has helped the Bucks to a 36-29 record, the fifth-best in the Eastern Conference with 16 games to play.
The team has already surpassed its win totals from the past three seasons (34, 26, 28) and is surprisingly just five games back from the Boston Celtics, who won the Championship in 2007-08.
While a berth in the postseason is still a long way from guaranteed, Milwaukee’s momentum is undeniable after having won 12 of its last 13 games including victories over powerhouses Cleveland, Boston and Utah.
In that run, Bogut has led his team in rebounding 11 times and scoring four, including a 24-point, 20-rebound effort against New York in February.
The last time Milwaukee reached the playoffs was the year Bogut was drafted.
But they fell in the first round to the Pistons, who had knocked the Bucks out in their previous postseason appearance in 2003-04.
The Bucks’ season-high winning streak is currently at six games after a 98-94 triumph over Indiana at home on Monday morning (Australian time).
The two-time Olympian posted 17 points and 12 rebounds, and added four assists and three blocks in the win.
Milwaukee added several pieces to its line-up this season, including fiesty young rookie Brandon Jennings, Argentinian Carlos Delfino and swingman John Salmons during the trade period in February.