2020 NBA Finals Analysis: Bucks – Raptors – Celtics
While the Western Conference has been the stronger conference as of late, the Eastern Conference is trying to reverse that trend. This season, the Eastern Conference semi-finals are loaded with teams that have a great shot at taking home the Larry O’Brien trophy. This year’s top 3 seeds in the East are Milwaukee, Toronto, and Boston. Let’s take a look at what all three of these teams need to do to win the Eastern Conference and advance to the finals so you can make your bets against their NBA Playoffs odds.
Bucks/Raptors/Celtics – What do they need to win the Eastern Conference?
The Bucks didn’t get off to a good start in their series with Miami, as the Heat took Game 1. In order for the Bucks to advance, Giannis Antetokounmpo will need to hit some perimeter shots. Right now, teams are employing the “wall” strategy against Antetokounmpo. They’re taking the drive away from him and forcing him to shoot perimeter shots. If he can hit outside shots with some consistency, the Bucks are very dangerous.
Milwaukee hasn’t played well since entering the NBA bubble. They’ve dominated weaker competition, but when challenged, they’ve struggled. The Bucks employ a defense which takes away driving lanes and allows their opponents to shoot the 3-pointer. If the Bucks can get out and contest the 3’s, and not give up too many, they can be successful.
The Bucks will need scoring contributions from others besides Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. Eric Bledsoe has missed time due to injury, and George Hill has stepped in and done a nice job. If they can get more scoring from their bench, Milwaukee will be in a good position to advance.
The Celtics took it to the Raptors in Game 1 and barely snuck by in Game 2. Toronto has been the surprise team in the NBA this season. Many thought that when Kawhi Leonard left, that the Raptors would be a middle-of-the-pack team in the East. NBA Coach of the Year Nick Nurse had other thoughts.
Nurse employs many different defensive strategies that can frustrate their opponents. Toronto can play “small ball”, or come out with a big lineup. Toronto has also employed many zone defense looks throughout the season. Look for Toronto to use multiple defensive looks and strategies to help their cause.
Toronto has shown that they can score on weaker opponents, but when they’ve come up against stronger defensive teams, they’ve struggled to put the ball in the basket. Pascal Siakam will need to be more dominant on the offensive end if the Raptors want to advance.
In Toronto’s 13 games since the restart, the Celtics are the only team that has beaten them. If they can finally get to Boston, they have a legitimate shot at the finals.
Boston is one of the most versatile teams in the NBA. If and when Gordon Hayward comes back, they can put 4 strong offensive players out on the floor at any given time. Jayson Tatum is an up-and-coming superstar. Kemba Walker is one of the top point guards in the league, and Jaylen Brown is becoming a phenomenal player.
Brad Stevens is one of the league’s top coaches. He has turned the Celtics into a defensive force. He also has the Celtics playing a style of basketball where they can run when they need to, or they can play a slow-down, half court type of offense. The Celtics versatility has made them a very tough team.
Boston has shown that they can score against the league’s toughest defenses. Jayson Tatum is turning into a superstar right before our eyes. Even without Hayward, the Celtics will be led by the elite scoring and playmaking of Tatum, Walker, and Brown. This combination will be hard to stop.