Are the Bucks Massive Favorites to Come out of the East?

Not the biggest GIannis Antetokoumpo fan but you have to respect sheer dominance when you see it. We saw him score 50 points in a close-out game against the Phoenix Suns in the 2021 NBA Finals; and we hadn’t seen a high-scoring game like that in the Finals since the days Shaquille O’Neal was annihilating everything in his path when the Lakers 3-peated in the early 2000’s. The Celtics have a new coach in Joe Mazzulla and no one knows whether they should take the Boston Celtics seriously; as we just don’t know if Joe’s inexperience as a head-coach let alone coaching in the playoffs could end up hindering the Celtics down the road. Ime Udoka’s inexperience showed in last year’s Finals against an experienced Warriors team with an infinite amount of playoff experience. They made the Celtics look like they had no business in the Finals last season and I say all this because Boston is supposed to be the biggest threat to Milwaukee come playoff time. The Celtics got deeper and hopefully they get forward Danilo Gallinari back for the playoffs as he would definitely give them a major boost off the bench with his timely shooting and playoff experience but they aren’t deeper than the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Sixers? At this point Joel Embiid just sounds like that loud dog that just barks and barks but never does much beyond that. I understand being frustrated over being shorted on a league MVP or two over the past few years but hopefully he follows his own advice on knowing the only way he will get his respect is if he wins the championship this season. The Sixers too improved their depth this season after Harden took less-money for it to be possible and it’s worked wonders for them but at the end of the day Harden is going to have to step up once again much like he did in last year’s playoffs where he shockingly didn’t pull off one of his infamous collapses and played well down the stretch late in many of those games in the semi-finals. Back to the Bucks though, at this point Giannis scoring 25+ points and hauling down over 12+ rebounds has sort of become the norm and he’s not the consensus best player in the league but it’s hard to argue against. LeBron fan here, when healthy I’ll still take LeBron over anyone even right now but I think Jokic deserves the crown as far as that goes. The man is just on another universe with the pin-point passing and Magic Johnson like impact on the Denver Nuggets offense.

Giannis is definitely formidable though, we saw how dominant he was in last year’s second round even without Khris Middleton who’s arguably their second best player and he definitely frightened the Celtics at least late in that series. This time around we’d expect Khris MIddleton to be healthy and in the Bucks’s starting lineup come playoff time instead of coming off the bench as he is at this very moment so the Celtics path to the Finals this season won’t be as smooth, specially with a rejuvenated Giannis who is on a mission to place himself amongst the all-time greats with a second title and place himself in discussion for being possibly top 10 all-time. The way the Bucks have just retooled around Giannis the last few years has been rather impressive, they just acquire and bring in players who look to play the right way and flourish in their roles like Pat Connaughton,Bobby Portis,Grayson Allen, and Joe Ingles who they signed over last off-season. That leaving out Jae Crowder who they just brought over, another hard-nosed defender who’s yet another knock-down shooter GIannis has to work with. Have fun getting out to all the Bucks’s shooters, Giannis,Lopez,Middleton,and Holiday are all fantastic passers who will wreck havoc against opposing defenses swinging the ball around like a hot potato around the perimeter.

I think the only way the Bucks don’t make the Finals is if Jayson Tatum doesn’t have yet another mental breakdown when the kitchen gets hot in a playoff series. He sputtered away against the Heat in last year’s Conference Finals where the Celtics as a team got Tatum by and of course it was just too good to be true to expect him to revitalize himself on the biggest stage against a well rested Warriors team whom must’ve seen how shake they looked against the Heat offensively. So yes the Celtics can very well get back to the Finals this season and they will likely have to trample the Bucks to get there but there are several question marks there. Will the bench step up? Will Marcus Smart’s usual erratic games hinder the Celtics? Is Jayson Tatum ready for superstardom? Can Joe Mazzulla out-coach a Mike Budenholzer,Erik Spoelstra, and to a lesser extent Doc Rivers, sorry Doc I just can’t get past all the playoff collapses you’ve been behind but hopefully you give me and many others a reason to help get that choke label of you along with your two stars James Harden and Joel Embiid who share also share it along with you at the moment. And yes I said Erik Spoelstra, I’m not napping on the Heat yet again as their starting 5 is as good as any out East IF healthy. Lowry/Herro/Butler/Love/Adebayo with Erik at the helm? Screams major dark-horse.

The Cavaliers,Knicks,and Hawks can also be considered dark-horses out East but if you are playing with house-money the Bucks,Sixers,Celtics,and Heat will be your likely candidates to represent the Eastern Conference. I gush over Evan Mobley and Darius Garland’s potential in Cleveland and how much damage they could do alongside a player of Donovan Mitchell’s caliber; and I would not be surprised one bit if they find themselves in the Conference Finals this season but second year forward Evan Mobley is going to have to kick up big-time for that to ever be possible; and I’m talking breaking out into a star type of kick-up where he’s putting up 26 point 13 rebounds with 3-4 blocks on the regular. The Bucks? They don’t need to wait around for anyone to break-out, Khris Middleton,Jrue Holiday,and Brook Lopez who are the Bucks’s 3 best players beyond Giannis Antetokoumpo obviously are all well-seasoned veterans with loads of playoff experience and you’ve have to think they are looking to capitalize on at least 1 more title before they possibly look to break up this aging core around Giannis Antetokoumpo as looming free-agency decisions will have to be made on Brook Lopez who’s an impending free-agent this summer and Khris Middleton who holds player option for next season.

These coming playoffs will either serve as a testament that we indeed are in the Giannis Antetokoumpo era or maybe a loss in the playoffs for the Bucks could signal for major movement in the off-season around their megastar. I’ll tell you this much it should not be a foregone conclusion for the Bucks to make the Finals this season as James Harden and Joel Embiid likely see the light at the end of the tunnel in Philadelphia and know it’s either now or never as they look to finally become champions. If the 2022 NBA Finals really humbled Jayson Tatum, and so far it seems like it has as he’s made the leap into superstardom this season the Celtics will be terrifying come play-off time. We are going to see just how great is Giannis Antetokoumpo in the 2023 NBA Playoffs, he’s being held to a very high standard with people even chirping about him being better than a prime LeBron James so I’ll definitely be keyed in on Giannis and seeing if he could withstand Jayson Tatum and Joel Embiid two goliaths who could very well stop him on his tracks come playoff time.


Author: D-NBA

Hello, the name is Dionis and I've been an avid sports enthusiast ever since childhood. I studied at William Paterson University where I obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Finance and have worked at several financial Institutions within the banking industry through my 20's. I've embarked on the entrepreneurial path in search of looking to impact as many lives as possible by providing value in a subject which has always been ingrained in me as a kid which is the NBA. I've followed the NBA passionately since I was old enough to pick up a Sega Genesis controller and pop in NBA Live 95. I hope to widen your interest in a game I've followed rigorously my entire life and plan on following till my time is up on this earth, thank you for visiting.

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