Photo by Brew Hoop
Let’s be honest AGAIN – the NBA has been a little unpredictable this season.
The Eastern Conference has been a little more predictable, but not completely. Teams like the 76ers have yet to live up to their expectations, and not very good teams like the Magic and Wizards have somehow been given the opportunity to scrap for a playoff spot.
And so, J Squared Hoops will try to do the impossible and give a simulation of the Eastern Conference based on current standings (4/3/20). And so, here’s what the playoffs could/would look like, if they ever happen.
Bucks vs. Magic
This series is a no brainer. The Magic are OK, but nothing past OK. Their two best players, Vucevic and Fournier, are inconsistent. And while they have an overall solid roster, they are nothing in comparison to the Bucks. The Bucks beat them at almost every position, and with Giannis being guarded by Terrence Ross or Khem Birch, it would be a complete Greek Freak takeover. Should be an easy walk for the Bucks.
OUTCOME: Bucks in 4.
Raptors vs. Nets
If this matchup was in 2020-2021, this would be a lot different. But as of now, this should be pretty easy for the Raptors. They’ve been playing incredibly well this season, and the Nets have been a little more inconsistent than they would hope. I’m giving room in my outcome for an insane Caris Levert performance, but overall, I think the Raptors’ incredible team play and well-balanced scoring should beat Brooklyn.
OUTCOME: Raptors in 5.
Celtics vs. 76ers
This is a great series, one that I really wish we eventually have the privilege of watching. The Sixers have had a weird year thus far, with both injuries and locker rooms issues plaguing their play. Add that to a powerful Celtics team that can score at all 5 positions, and it looks like this series could be trouble for Philly. The Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker duo will wear down on a 76ers team who can’t stay healthy or happy. Call me when Ben Simmons can shoot.
OUTCOME: Celtics in 6.
Heat vs. Pacers
This series is going to be the most fun to watch (if we get to) during the first round. These two teams are so evenly matched, with scoring at every position. The Heat have Jimmy Butler, one of the best two guards in the league, and Bam Adebayo, arguably the league’s best two-way forward. But the Pacers have Victor Oladipo back, a franchise superstar who is absolutely dominant on the offensive end, and Damontas Sabonis, an All-Star forward who can score in every way, everywhere. I’m giving the edge to Miami, simply because of their shooting abilities and bench depth. Tyler Herro and Jae Crowder make the difference for Miami, and although I love Oladipo, he hasn’t played enough this season to make me believe he’ll return to “Black Panther” status right away.
OUTCOME: Heat in 7.
Bucks vs. Heat
I like this series. That being said, I don’t think it’ll be much to watch. The Heat can do their best to put Bam Adebayo in Giannis’ way. But at the end of the day, Giannis is just far too dominant to have to guard for 7 games. The Heat have a lot of guys who are great shooters, but with the Bucks defense on them, they’ll have to do way more than just spot up to win games. The Bucks will be able to make non-factors out of specialists like Duncan Robinson and Myers Leonard and take this one home.
OUTCOME: Bucks in 5.
Raptors vs. Celtics
I’ve written a lot of match up breakdowns, but this is for sure one of the most difficult ones I’ve had to break down. The differences here are minuscule. The Raptors have developed an amazing secondary unit, as well as a cohesive team all around. But the Celtics look really good right now, and their second unit is top notch as well. I give this series to the Celtics for one reason: bench experience. I know the Raptors all have experience in the Finals, but the Celtics 2nd unit seems to be a lot more experienced. A bench led by Gordon Hayward and Marcus Smart seems more in tact to me than one led by OG Anunoby and Matt Thomas. The Raptors will have to wait another year to try to get another ring.
OUTCOME: Celtics in 7.
Bucks vs. Celtics
This would be a great Eastern Conference Finals series. Two star packed teams going at it with a LOT on the line (seeing who can lose to the Lakers). But, I’m giving this one back to the 1 seed. The Bucks are too explosive to be eliminated by the Celtics, who at times look a little reserved. Plus, these guys have been here before. The Bucks were in the ECF last season and had to face an eventual champion. This Celtics roster doesn’t have as many big times minutes logged, and I’m afraid to how guys like Kemba Walker will respond to having to perform in the big time (he didn’t really have to worry about that on the Hornets). And so, I think the Bucks will have to play the Lakers for the championship this season.
OUTCOME: Bucks in 6.