Ranking 3 biggest contenders to Milwaukee Bucks in Eastern Conference

MIAMI, FL - MAY 29 (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MAY 29 (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton, Brooklyn Nets: James Harden
Jun 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

No. 2 threat to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference – Brooklyn Nets

This ranking at the second biggest threat to the Bucks assumes that the Brooklyn Nets are healthy, which I know is a big assumption, considering their big three has only played 16 games altogether since last January. But if the Nets are fully healthy, they present a unique challenge to the Bucks that no other team can match, with three of the best isolation scorers of all time in Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden.

We saw the challenges that only two of the Nets’ big three being healthy present in Games 1 and 2 of their series last year when the Bucks got blown out in both those games. The concern with the Nets though is not their talent level, it’s their chemistry. That’s where the Bucks have the biggest advantage in a potential series. The Bucks’ Big 3 has played more games this year together than the Nets’ big three has played together all-time. And that’s with it being well-documented how the Bucks have struggled to keep all of them healthy at the same time this year. Even if the Nets are fully healthy come playoff time, Kyrie Irving can only play in away games due to the vaccine mandate in New York, which means the Nets would have to make two different gameplans for home and away games, a task I am not sure Steve Nash is up to.

Diving into the individual matchups in this potential series, the Bucks would most likely have a combination of Wes Matthews and Jrue Holiday on the Nets’ star guards. Where the mystery is is who guards Kevin Durant. It was a big point of contention among national media last year that Giannis wasn’t the primary defender on Kevin Durant. This year, PJ Tucker is gone, which means Giannis might have to spend more time guarding KD. Khris Middleton would most likely get significant reps there as well.

On the other side, the Nets have literally no one who can guard Giannis. Blake Griffin was their primary option last year, but he’s been riding the pine since December due to his horrendous play. This means it would be a combination of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Claxton, and KD on Giannis. In other words, Giannis would absolutely eat this series just like he did last year. Although this would be a very tough series, I believe the Bucks would win in seven games, a repeat of last year’s result.