It’s the perennial question: Can the Milwaukee Bucks snag an 8-seed in the playoffs?
Here at Behind the Buck Pass, we love to give you different insight on the Bucks, the Central Division, and the NBA in general from our of team of unique writers. The BtBP squad recently teamed up for a survey to share our thoughts on the Eastern Conference and to give our readers a preview.
Five Behind the Buck Pass writers were asked to predict the Eastern Conference playoff seeds and to give their thoughts on the teams they picked. We took the average position of each team and ranked them based on the those averages.
|1. Miami Heat
High Vote: #1 (All)
Low Vote: #1
|K L Chouinard: Defending champs roll. Unless they dive early, the breathing room earned from championship #1 should make them even better in this upcoming regular season. Also, the teams from the Southeast Division not named ‘Miami’ will rot like putrid fish this year.
Dakota Schmidt: The NBA Champs got stronger with the additions of future Hall of Famer and former Buck Ray Allen and sharp shooting big man Rashard Lewis. These two players will mainly be used off of the Heat bench, but they add a ton of depth to a team that’s already loaded and coming off a championship last year.
Preston Schmitt: This is self-explanatory, though Miami has lost three of their last four meetings against Milwaukee. FEAR THE DAMN DEER, Heat.
Cole Brown: Even if one of the “big three” guys gets hurt, the Heat have a lot of talented role players who are more then capable of stepping up. Miami is the team to beat this season.
|2. Boston Celtics
Average Vote: 2.4
High Vote: #2 (Cole, K L, Alex)
Low Vote: #3 (Dakota, Preston)
|K L: If KG can keep enough spring in his legs to keep defending, the Celtics will be just fine. The loss of Ray Allen won’t hurt the C’s… until they have to defend the Heat in the playoffs.
Alex Skov: This spot is the Celtics’ to lose and could easily be claimed by Indiana, but Rajon Rondo can will his team into the Eastern Conference Finals. Kevin Garnett’s the on-court defensive mastermind and the heart of a team that may have gotten two steals by nabbing Ohio State product Jared Sullinger and Syracuse big man Fab Melo late in the first round of June’s draft.
Dakota: The death of the Big 3 doesn’t quite mean the death of this Celtics team just yet. Ray Allen might’ve packed his bags to South Beach but Danny Ainge and the Celtics front office swooped right in to grab Jason Terry who will be an amazing scoring threat off of the bench. They also acquired Courtney Lee who will be called upon to be the starting shooting guard with Avery Bradley who will be until sidelined until mid-December due to shoulder surgery.
Preston: Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce are still alive, so the Celtics will probably be an upper-echelon team in the Eastern Conference, yet again. Rinse and repeat.
Average Vote: 2.6
High Vote: #2
Low Vote: #3 (Cole, K L, Alex)
|K L: Getting Hibbert back keeps the Pacers high.
Dakota: This surprise young team that gave the champion Heat a run for their money in the playoffs last year will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference this season. Indiana became a more balanced team with bench additions like Gerald Green and D.J Augustin.
Preston: The Pacers proved throughout the regular season and playoffs last season that they are, indeed, a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference. I think we’ll see a dogfight between the Celtics and Pacers for the two seed.
Cole: The scary thing about this Pacer team is that they’ll only get better this season. They made some nice off-season moves to make them one of the deepest teams in the East. With an elite center in Hibbert, and great outside shooting, the Pacers are legitimate threat to the Heat.
Average Vote: 4.8
High Vote: #4 (Dakota,Preston, Alex)
Low Vote: #6 (Cole, K L)
|K L: This 76er team has a host of enticing pieces and Andrew Bynum. It also has Andrew Bynum in a contract year with Andrew Bynum’s knees. How many games do you think he will play this season, if he tweaks either of them in any way?
Alex: With Iguodala finally out of the picture, the 76ers won’t have to worry about the possibility of trade rumors affecting on-court performance (though Iguodala is an absolute professional). Even in a different jersey, Bynum will still give opposing centers fits in the post and his presence alone will space the floor for shooters like Jason Richardson.
Dakota: The end of the Andre Iguodala era in Philly gives way tohe Andrew Bynum era, and that may be just what the doctor ordered to bring the 76ers back to the success they had early in the 2000′s. The huge thing I’m interestedin is the potential starting big man combo of Hawes/Bynum who both stand at over 7-feet tall. Perhaps Spencer Hawes could become that Pau Gasol-type player that Andrew Bynum is, of course, used to playing with.
Preston: The Sixers, who have rivaled the Bucks and Suns for the team most content with being mediocre, decided to try something new by swapping Iguodala for Bynum. Bynum becomes the most dominant center in the Eastern Conference, by far, which should make the 76ers a tough matchup every night. I’m buying in…until Bynum’s knees inevitably give out.
Cole: The Sixers are likely the most intriguing team in the East. Can they count on their franchise player, Andrew Bynum, to stay healthy though? If their new collection of players meshes well, they could make a very serious postseason run.
|5.New Jersey Nets
Average Vote: 5
High Vote: #4 (K L)
Low Vote: #6 (Alex)
|K L: The Nets have a nice core — and that includes role guys who fit a niche like Reggie Evans. But with so much cash tied into so few players (for multiple years), is it worth it to max out as a #4 seed?
Alex: They missed out on Dwight Howard, but adding Joe Johnson still qualifies as a coup for the Brooklyn front office. They have firepower, but the Nets’ defensive inabilities will stop them from making much noise in the postseason.
Dakota: When you look at Brooklyn’s depth chart you are a witness to former All-Stars like Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, but the real reason why I don’t have this team higher is because I’m really not sure howthey’re going to play together as a starting 5.
Preston: The Nets’ salary structure is laughable, but they should be a highly competitive team this season. If not, well, they’ll have fun trying to blow up a roster full of aging players with inflated contracts.
Cole: I like their Williams-Johnson-Wallace-Humphries-Lopez starting lineup, but after that it’s a bunch of non-impact players. I agree with K L that they max out as a 4 seed, with a first round exit this year.
|6.New York Knicks
Average Vote: 5.4
High Vote: #4 (Cole)
Low Vote: #7 (Dakota)
|K L: Always hyped, the Knicks will again get their fair share of attention. With Shumpert rehabbing from an ACL injury, the guard play may be lacking. But the Knicks have a deep group of forwards and centers that feel more like a surprisingly tough playoff out than a regular-season dominator.
Preston: Oh, what’s that you say? New York is going to continue the Amar’e Stoudemire-Carmelo Anthony experiment for the third straight season? Woah, they added Ray Felton and Jason Kidd, too!? Cool. Sixth-seed ceiling.
Cole: If Amar’e can stay healthy, this Knicks team could do some serious damage in the East. The additions of Marcus Camby and Jason Kidd add some great leadership and depth to this already dangerous squad. If the chemistry clicks in New York could be a serious contender for the Eastern conference title.
Average Vote: 7.4
High Vote: 7 (Cole, K L, Preston, Alex)
Low Vote: 9 (Dakota)
|K L: The Bulls will miss Derrick Rose, C.J. Watson, and Omer Asik.
Preston: The Bulls proved they could compete without Derrick Rose for a significant part of last year’s regular season. Can they compete without Rose (for potentially the entire season) and the ‘Bench Mob?’ I have severe doubts. The coaching style of Tom Thibodeau, like Skiles, could wear on his players in year three, resulting in an even further drop. I thought the Bulls might decide to tank this year, but their curious free agent acquisitions (Vlad Rad!) suggest otherwise.
Cole: While other powers in the East improved, the Bulls didn’t do much of anything this offseason. Derrick Rose is going to miss significant time, which means they’ll struggle (a la Sixers series), especially out of the gate. They do have nice pieces in Deng, Boozer and Noah, who will be their only hope to stay in contention.
|8. Milwaukee Bucks
Average Vote: 7.8
High Vote: 6 (Dakota)
Low Vote: 9 (Alex)
|K L: I would say more, but don’t we talk about those guys enough ’round these parts?
Preston: I did this out of poetic justice, more than anything else. No team will fight harder for the eight seed than the Bucks. Milwaukee has shown the resolve to continually neglect selling their expiring assets at the trade deadline, because they’re sniffing the eighth seed. Perhaps this year, all that determination will pay off (…in the form of a quick first-round playoff exit).
Cole: The Bucks boast a ton of depth, and a bunch of pieces that make me see “Fear the Dear 2”. But with the East being so talented this year, it’s hard to believe the Bucks will be able to make a run. If the new pieces like Dalembert, Henson and Lamb pan out well, the Bucks have a shot of being somewhat relevant this season.
Others receiving votes: Atlanta Hawks (a pair of 8th-seed votes from Dakota and Alex)
Alex: The Bucks land at the (typically) controversial ninth spot. They’ll post a good enough record to be in the playoffs, but dropping the occasional game will keep them just off the playoff cusp. Milwaukee may have the better team, but Atlanta will grab the No. 8 seed by virtue of playing in a weaker division. The Bucks must contend with the Pacers and a depleted-but-still-capable Chicago squad — not to mention rising teams in Detroit and Cleveland — while the Hawks’ only worthy rival in the Southeast is the reigning NBA champion Heat.
K L: In my view, the cutoff line falls after the first tier of six teams — leaving Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Cleveland, and Toronto to fight for the two remaining spots.
Preston: Another likely scenario: The Bucks finish ninth in the East again, with the new-look Hawks sneaking into the playoffs.
Cole: We all know the East used to be a cakewalk, but that is certainly not the case this season. In my opinion, there are 12 teams who have atleast a realistic shot of making the playoffs. I believe the Hawks, Bulls and Bucks will have a dogfight for the 7th and 8th seeds, similar to the one we saw last year between the Sixers, Knicks and Bucks (*sigh*). With a lot of new faces and line-ups, the East will certainly be extremely interesting this year.