Once the Milwaukee Bucks acquired Damian Lillard via trade from Portland last month, they immediately became the favorites to win it all in the NBA. However, not everyone is on board with the Bucks running away with the title because they acquired another All-Star/All-NBA player. An anonymous scout recently gave their thoughts on the Eastern Conference and which teams Milwaukee will likely struggle with this season.
“They would probably match up poorly versus Cleveland. I think they match up poorly versus Boston. I also could see Milwaukee struggling more with the Detroits of the world. The Pacers are going to be a real thorn in that team’s side,” the unnamed scout said.
According to this scout, the Bucks are likely to “struggle” with the entire Central Division minus the Chicago Bulls. The biggest threat to a title run for the Bucks is obviously Boston. While the Celtics might be the most formidable foe to the Bucks on paper, losing Robert Williams III will certainly hurt their defense in the paint. Kristaps Porzingis is a good big but can’t compare to Williams in athleticism. However, what Porzingis lacks there, he makes for on the offensive end.
So, most people probably won’t disagree that the Celtics pose a huge threat to the championship aspirations of the Bucks this year. Looking at the other teams, this scout mentions we’re using the word struggle loosely. The Cavs match up well with the Bucks, although they don’t have the same depth. With Jrue Holiday now residing in Boston, Donovan Mithcell should be free to do as he pleases against Milwaukee offensively. It’s conceivable to think these teams could split the season series, but in the postseason, with all things being equal (mainly health), it’d be hard to pick against the Bucks.
Indiana and Detroit are intriguing, but nobody expects anything out of them. The Pacers have a nice mix of young and veteran talent, with players like Tyrese Haliburton and Benn Mathurin in the backcourt, then up-front Myles Turner, Bruce Brown, and Obi Toppin. They’ve also got sharpshooter Buddy Hield and T.J. McConnell coming off the bench. Turner and Hield have been the subject of trade rumors for some time, so they may not even make it through the season.
The ceiling for the Pacers in terms of playoff possibility is the No. 5 seed at best, and even that may be a stretch. With the talent they’ve acquired, the play-in tournament should be a lock, but the NBA season is long with many obstacles along the way. How the team looks in October could drastically change by the time we reach April. Indiana could give Milwaukee some fits when they play, but let’s not expect too much from this Pacers crew.
Detroit has tons of upside, but that term is usually reserved for teams and players capable of making a significant impact in the future. Their youth and energy should shine through in the regular season and could even catch the Bucks by surprise and beat them a time or two this year. It also wouldn’t be shocking if Milwaukee swept the season series, either.
These Pistons have a wealth of young talent in Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Marvin Bagley III, James Wiseman, and others. They also have more tenured players like Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris to fill out Monty Williams’ roster. Even with some well-known veteran names on this squad, the Pistons are looking to the future and being viable within the next couple of years. Detroit should win more than the 17 games they did last year, but don’t expect anything greater than possibly sneaking into the play-in. This team is too young to seriously match up with the Bucks.
It is a long season, but there isn’t any reason for the Bucks to be in the Eastern Conference Finals in May with the chance at making it back to the NBA Finals. Unless they run into a pissed-off Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat along the way (again), there shouldn’t be too much resistance in Milwaukee out east other than a couple of teams. The anonymous scout reeled off multiple teams when, in reality, Boston is the ultimate nemesis to Milwaukee right now.
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