Which team will come out of the East?

After quite a few years, we can finally say that this is a pretty hard question to answer, given the fact that we have four well-balanced teams in the East at the moment, and if Oladipo wouldn’t have injured his knee, the Indiana Pacers would be the fifth one in that mix. When the playoff time will come, the matchups coming in the second round will be more interesting than they have ever been in the “modern era”. With Milwaukee, Toronto, Philadelphia and Boston all being a force in the Eastern Conference, there are a lot of factors that you have to take into consideration when you pick one of them to play the Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks are the principal favorites, as they have been on the first place with the best record all around the league for the entire season, while their star player is the runner up for the MVP trophy this season. The only bad thing that has happened to them was the injury of Malcolm Brogdon, who suffered a minor plantar fascia tear in his right foot and is out indefinitely. He gave them 15,6 PPG, 4,5 RPG and 3,2 APG in 28,6 minutes played while being a threat from beyond the arc. Despite all that, the Bucks are doing just fine for now. They wiped the floor with the Houston Rockets, beating them by a margin of 14 points in a game that Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton weren’t even playing at their highest level. Eric Bledsoe will be a key factor for their long playoff run, as well as Brook’s long-range threes; a thing that doesn’t surprise us anymore. The bench and the depth of the roster, though, can be a deciding factor also, if we compare it to the other three main competitors.

With the addition of Tobias Harris and Boban Marjanovic, the 76ers are a lot stronger, and Jimmy Butler with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, who is one of the most dominant big men in the league, can do some serious damage when the real deal will come. They also have a great shooter in JJ Redick, while Jonathon Simmons and TJ McConnell can give them solid minutes off the bench. It will be interesting to see them playing against the Raptors in the second round of the playoffs. In the regular season, the Raptors kind of had their numbers, as they beat them 3 times while losing only once against them.

The Raptors are still a mystery for some, and some people around the league are not jumping in their ship, using the fact that they had good regular seasons in the past but did nothing when the playoffs came as a reason. It’s fair to say that, but you have to take in consideration the fact that they have Kawhi Leonard on their roster now, one of the most elite players in the league, both offensively and defensively. The difference between him and DeMar DeRozan will be seen especially in defense, because both of them are good at scoring the ball, but Kawhi is a way better defender than DeRozan. Another player that can provide big help them this season is Paskal Siakam, who is likely to win the Most Improved Player award. Marc Gasol, though, was a great pick up for them, as he is a great mid-range shooter and a pick-and-pop type of player at times. Their bench together with the Celtics’ one are deeper than everyone else’s in the East, and this can help them a lot in a battle with the Bucks or the 76ers.

Even though the Boston Celtics had some rough times throughout the season, you can’t just count them out in the playoffs. They got a little lucky with Oladipo’s injury, as they can get the home court advantage in the first round versus Indiana, which is very important for them because they have a 17-19 record on the road. It doesn’t have to be said any more that they have an incredible roster full of young talent, and if they will get their things together until the end of the regular season, they are a serious threat for every team mentioned above. Let’s not forget that they played the Eastern Conference Finals last year and coming into this year a lot of specialists thought that they will be the team to beat in the East for many years to come. Gordon Hayward’s game will have a big impact on their success, so if he manages to step up and play as he used to, we will have a tight playoff race, for sure.

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