If there is one thing that the first round of the NBA Playoffs has taught us, it’s that the Eastern Conference is stacked with talent, and the Milwaukee Bucks are perhaps the best-placed team to beat the most talented team in the East — and NBA — the Brooklyn Nets.
The Bucks who are fresh off a pretty dominant sweep of the Miami Heat, look poised to make life difficult for a Brooklyn team that lacks size, grit and defensive resistance on most nights.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is playing as good as anyone right now on both ends of the floor. His elevated performance is a direct result of the additions of veteran bulldogs Jrue Holiday, Bobby Portis, and PJ Tucker.
Memo to Stephen A.: Giannis is already a superstar.
The game-changer is when Mike Budenholzer finally changed his style of having the ball in Giannis’ hands during crunch time, instead, opting for Khris Middleton or the aforementioned Holiday. This dynamic shift has made Milwaukee less predictable and more dangerous.
The Bucks have an entirely new attitude after underachieving in the playoffs the past two years, despite boasting the best regular-season record in the Eastern Conference.
After an off-season of stressing about Giannis’ plans on whether to not to re-sign with the franchise, many thought Mike Budenholzer would be fired and he wasn’t.
Retaining “Coach Bud” has helped the Bucks, who are playing with a chip on their shoulders. Now with a renewed and reinvigorated feel, this team wants to prove wrong the many naysayers who said they weren’t built for playoff success.
Holiday described the team as a bunch of “wild dogs” to describe how hungry the group is to find success this year.
We saw that hunger in their four-game dismantling of the defending Eastern Conference Champion Miami Heat.
Yes, the Nets should be worried. The Nets have the best trio in the league and arguably the most gifted trio of scorers any one team has ever had at their disposal.
But you have to play both ends. Losing LaMarcus Aldridge suddenly was huge as he was going to supply the size and defense, completing the frontcourt.
That will now fall on Blake Griffin and probably DeAndre Jordan. The loss of Jeff Green looms bigger than any loss for the Nets, as he allows the Nets to play small with him at the five and keep the floor spread for KD, Harden and Kyrie and knockdown shooter Joe Harris.
Milwaukee is on a tear right now and they play with versatility. They’re playing their best overall basketball in the last three seasons with Giannis in full flow.
With all that being said I’m taking the Nets in 7 highly competitive and highly contested games.
I expect the winner of this series to represent the East in the NBA Finals.