The Eastern Conference has some excellent contending teams and it will be a tough ride for the Eastern Conference champion this year. Getting to the NBA Finals won’t be easy, as there are at least 5 teams who feel they can win it all.
Gone are the days where the West is a much better conference since the East has picked up in recent years. Some of the best players in the world reside in the East, including the best team in the league. In order to decide the NBA Finals participant in the East, it is time to predict who will play in the NBA Finals and represent the Eastern Conference.
Eastern Conference Bracket
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (8) Orlando Magic
The Milwaukee Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, and that will be enough for them to defeat the Magic in 4 games. The Bucks are an excellent team who move the ball, play hard defense, and have playoff experience from last year. They also had the best record in the regular season and will be the favorites in the East.
The Magic don’t have star talent outside of Nikola Vucevic, who will not be able to save Orlando. The Magic made the playoffs under .500 (33-40) so they are not a great team and this will show in the first round.
Winner: Bucks vs. Magic 4-0
(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (7) Brooklyn Nets
Just a reminder that neither KD nor Kyrie is healthy, meaning the Nets have zero chance against the Toronto Raptors. The Raptors are reigning NBA champions and hold the second seed in the regular season for a reason. They are confident in their play, have two All-Stars, and are exceptionally well-coached. The Raptors should win this in 4 games as well.
The Nets have an exciting base for next season, so they should only be taking this First-Round matchup as a chance to learn and gain experience. Of course, they want to win, and they will try, but it isn’t going to happen.
Winner: Raptors vs. Nets 4-1
(3) Boston Celtics vs. (6) Philadelphia 76ers
This would have been the most exciting matchup in the East, but Ben Simmons is out for the reason after left knee surgery. The Sixers simply do not have enough in the tank to reach the NBA Finals, let alone survive the First-Round meeting with the Boston Celtics who are at full strength.
Anything can happen, since the Sixers have star Joel Embiid, but they will struggle without their primary playmaker in Simmons. The Sixers will keep it close, but Boston comes away with the victory in 6 games.
Winner: Celtics vs. 76ers 4-2
(4) Miami Heat vs. (5) Indiana Pacers
This is an interesting matchup because the Miami Heat have been the better team all year but the Pacers just got Victor Oladipo back. The Heat have two All-Stars, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and are well-coached. Guys like Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro can shoot the lights out, and they play tough defense thanks to Jae Crowder and Andre Iguodala. The Heat are the favorites here.
The Pacers will fight, as they always do, but do not have much talent as Oladpio is just returning to full form and their only All-Star Domantas Sabonis is still questionable to return after injury. Heat take this in 5 games.
Winner: Heat vs. Pacers 4-1
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (4) Miami Heat
The second round will really heat up, as the best 4 teams will be playing it out as they inch closer to the NBA Finals.
The Bucks have to take on the Miami Heat, who want to prove that their own star Jimmy Butler can slow down Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Heat won the season series 2-1 during the regular season, one of which was a blowout 105-89. The Heat feel that they defend better than any team in the league, and that they move the ball enough on offense to score easy points.
But it will not be enough. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a top-3 player in the game and the likely MVP for a reason, and his teammates like Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez will show up for him. The Bucks will defeat the Heat in 6 games after Miami keeps it close early in the series. The Bucks will progress to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Winner: Bucks vs. Heat 4-2
(2) Toronto Raptors vs. (3) Boston Celtics
This is going to be one of the most memorable matchups in recent years. The Celtics are loaded with talent and the Raptors still have the championship swagger from last year. The winner of this series will depend on which team can get it done in crunch time.
That will be the Toronto Raptors. They will win in a thrilling game 7, taking down the Celtics after efficient and methodical play to wear down Jayson Tatum. The Celtics are a very good team, but they need Tatum to be a superstar in crunch time for them to play in the NBA Finals. There is no question he will get there at some point, but he is not ready just yet. The Raptors progress to play the Bucks in the ECF.
Winner: Raptors vs. Celtics 4-3
Eastern Conference Finals
(1) Milwaukee Bucks vs. (2) Toronto Raptors
Who will play in the NBA Finals? It’s on between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors. The Bucks have the best player in the series in Giannis Antetokounmpo and a host of defenders and shooters. They are well-coached and have been the better team all season long.
The Raptors beat the Bucks in the bubble 114-106, but that was without Giannis Antetokounmpo. Expect Giannis to play at his best in the ECF, which means the Bucks win it in 6 or 7 games. The Raptors are a very good team, but they lack a player like Giannis Antetokounmpo who can demand a double and triple-team every time he touches the ball. The Bucks are ruthless in their offense and don’t back down on defense, giving them a trip to the NBA Finals this year.
Winner: Bucks vs. Raptors 4-2