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: Bobby Portis, Miami Heat: P.J. Tucker
MIAMI, FLORIDA – DECEMBER 08 (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

No. 1 threat to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference – Miami Heat

The top threat to the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference as of right now are old foes in the Miami Heat. Simply put, this team is built to stop the Bucks and exploit their weaknesses.

Starting off, they poached PJ Tucker from the Bucks in free agency, and he has been sensational, leading the NBA in 3-point percentage, and locking down on defense as he always does. Next, the Heat have dealt with injuries all year to their top players in Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry, and Bam Adebayo. This has opened significant playing time for their bench, and they played amazing in all of their star’s absences. Max Strus, Caleb Martin, Gabe Vincent, and Tyler Herro can all absolutely bomb from 3-point range, something the Bucks are notorious for not defending very well.

In a potential series, the Bucks would need to defend the 3-point line to have a chance. The Heat also added a great piece in Kyle Lowry, someone who historically has had the Bucks number with his great 3-point shooting, playmaking, and gritty defense. This Heat team is much more similar to the bubble team that eliminated the Bucks in 5 than the team that got swept easily last year.

On the other side of the floor, the Heat have seriously upgraded their front-court defense by simply dumping Trevor Ariza and adding PJ Tucker. Along with an elite defensive center in Bam Adebayo, the Heat absolutely have the personnel to at least slow down Giannis. This would force Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday to really pick up the slack on the offensive side of the floor, assuming the Heat throw the kitchen sink at Giannis. That is absolutely something they are capable of doing, as we saw at the end of the Hawks series when Giannis went down with his knee injury.

Picking who wins in this series is a very difficult task, as the Bucks are a proven commodity, but the Heat match up extremely well against them. As currently constructed, as much as I hate to say it, I would lean towards Heat in seven in a very hard-fought series.

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Overall, the Eastern Conference is a totally different beast this year than previous seasons, and if the Milwaukee Bucks want to repeat as champions, they will have to earn it.