Eastern Conference Finals Preview and Prediction
Source: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
The Hawks and Bucks will meet up for the East Finals after both sides went through hell and back in their previous series. Atlanta defeated the number one seed Sixers, and the Bucks left victorious against Brooklyn. Both the Hawks and Bucks needed the seventh and deciding game to go advanced to the East finals. It's the youngster Trae Young against the two time MVP Giannis. So who will represent the East in the NBA Finals? Let’s find out!
The Hawks were the heavy underdog against the top seeded Philadelphia 76ers. However, that didn't stop Trae and company from pulling off the upset. The Hawks never say die attitude saw them erase a 26 point deficit (biggest playoff comeback in franchise history) in game 5, and were blessed with some clutch performances by Trae Young and Kevin Huerter in game 7 as well. David slayed goliath to return to the East Finals for the first time since 2015.
Despite having some big moments against Philly, the Hawks will need Young to be better against Giannis and company. We all know he isn't the greatest defender, however his efficiency on the offensive side needs to improve for them to stay in this series. They lost the season series against the Bucks, and were blown out in multiple games in the process. So they'll need to hone in on working out the kinks early before they washed out.
Speaking of a never say die attitude, the Bucks trailed KD and the gang 0-2 last round. However, thanks to some timely buckets (and the Nets lack of health), they clawed their way back into the series. Khris Middleton scored a playoff career high 38 points in Game 7, and Giannis got through the biggest test of his career so far. Despite feeling fatigued in the series finale, the Greek Freak muscled his team to Eastern Conference finals in back-to-back years.
If the Bucks wish to right wrongs from the past they'll need a lot of what the Hawks need to do, and that's work out the kinks. Last series, they looked lost on the offensive side, almost as they didn't know what got them this far. They are a great shooting team, but Giannis needs to stop settling for jumpers and do what he does best. Yes, the Hawks have Collins and Capela to help mitigate that, but Giannis is a different breed, and he'll need to show that.
The Hawks are exciting to watch, and have been my favorite team to watch in the playoffs. I'd love for the Hawks to stun the Bucks, the way they shocked Philly, but sadly I think the Bucks are just the better team. In years past, the Bucks would have crumbled in the big spots they faced against the Nets. Yet in their biggest game of the season they rose up and showed they have leveled up. They should have an easier time with Atlanta.
Bucks in 5.