Picking The Eastern Conference Semifinals
From eight teams down to four remaining in the NBA’s Eastern Conference.
The three best teams all season in the East were the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks. All three are still standing and have been joined by the Atlanta Hawks.
Looking back at round one, I missed on the Atlanta series. I thought the Knicks would prevail. I got the others correct, although I did think that Miami would pose much more of an issue to Milwaukee than they did in that opening series.
Now let’s take a look at what we have in front of us in the two Eastern Conference Semifinal series.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Philadelphia 76ers:
Philadelphia is so good when they are whole.
When they are whole they have the best record, they have the best plus minus, they are good on offense and on defense. There is a HUGE cloud over this series though regarding the health of Joel Embiid. Working with Doug Christie every day, he is adamant that Embiid is done for the post-season. The Philadelphia 76ers continue to state that he is day to day. If Embiid can come back and play to his full MVP type abilities, this team can win a championship, without him they can’t.
What about this series though?
I am going under the assumption that Embiid will not play in this series. It will be difficult for Philadelphia and the Hawks will do what the can to spread the floor on utilize all the gifts that Trae Young has. Philly can hit him with multiple high level defenders and in the end I think the talent and the matchups even without Embiid will be too much for Atlanta.
I will give the Hawks a chance and they will likely extend the series, but Philadelphia is too good, well coached and just a notch above Atlanta.
The pick: 76ers in 6.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Brooklyn Nets:
In my opinion this will be the best series of the entire NBA playoffs.
There will be more impactful and meaningful games later in both conferences, but this is the best matchup out there. This regular season we never saw a game that had Brooklyn’s Big 3 completely healthy for a matchup with the Bucks. There are so many angles and storylines to follow from this one.
Can you beat the Nets big 3 four times? Will the Nets offense be so good that it won’t matter that they have defensive issues? Who will the Nets play in the middle as a big for key minutes when they need them? Will the Bucks go small as a counter or stick with a bigger lineup to take some rebounding advantages that they already have and boost them even more? Will the Bucks play Giannis or Tucker at the 5 for stretches?
Lots of things to watch, lots to digest and for hoops junkies this should be a GREAT series. I am going to stick with my original thought on the Nets and stick with it here. I love their talent but I think between the injuries and lack of time together that it will catch up to them.
The BIG 3 will win a title—but just not this year. The offseason they will get the exact complementary pieces needed to take them for the long haul.
Milwaukee has more demons to shake and a huge chip on their shoulders. They carved up a previous demon in the Miami Heat and now they need to take another jump and get to the conference finals. This team has been together and failed together but is now ready to succeed together. I like their overall versatility, the different ways they can beat you and the fact that they have less weaknesses than the Nets.
The Nets may have the best strengths of any team left but I have a hunch here on this being the time for the Milwaukee Bucks.
The pick: Bucks in 6.