The Eastern Conference semifinal matchups are set and after enduring four underwhelming first-round battles, NBA fans will be blessed with two thrilling series.
The Bucks will take on the Celtics, having lost to Boston in Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s second trip to the postseason last spring. This Milwaukee team features an improved supporting cast, a new coach, and an advanced version of The Greek Freak.
Boston’s squad also will have new faces, as Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward did not play in the franchise’s 4-3 series win over Milwaukee. The Celtics will likely be without Marcus Smart, though the Bucks aren’t fully healthy either with Malcolm Brogdon still sidelined.
The Sixers and Raptors will face-off on the other side of the Eastern Conference bracket and both sides feature varying degrees of unfamiliarity.
Kawhi Leonard (22 games) and Kyle Lowry (17) each missed significant time for Toronto in 2018/19. Including the Raptors’ five postseason games, the pair has suited up together in a total of 48 games. The Raptors made a shrewd addition in Marc Gasol, but they didn’t initially commit to inserting him in the starting lineup and it further complicated their continuity.
The Raptors have put out the Gasol-Leonard-Lowry-Danny Green–Pascal Siakam starting five on just 14 occasions this season (including the postseason), though the group played together in five other contests in which Gasol came off the bench.
The Sixers also have just 14 games with their starting five taking the court at tip-off — Philadelphia’s five has just 168 minutes of action together compared to Toronto’s which has 257.
Which team do you think will advance in each of the next two rounds and represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals?
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