2021 East Finals Preview

In unexpected twist, the 2021 East Finals will come down to a battle between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Atlanta Hawks. Who you got??

Keys for the Bucks

What a wild ride it’s been for the Milwaukee Bucks. They went all-in on this season with the Jrue Holiday trade and so far, it’s paid off.  Following a sweep of the Miami Heat (and possibly an exorcism of some playoff demons) the Bucks fought the Brooklyn Nets hoof and horn until they finally ended up victorious in game 7. Their defense has been as deadly as we thought it would be and the Pj Tucker mid-season trade has turned out to be just the piece they needed for a run of this magnitude. Yet another test lies in their path though as they seek to defeat the Hawks in the 2021 East Finals.  

Defense, Defense, Defense

As stated above, defense is where this Milwaukee team leaves their mark.  Whether it’s Giannis’ ability to wreak havoc from sideline to sideline, Holiday’s perimeter defense or PJ Tucker’s one on one brilliance, they seem to have an answer for everything. They now matchup against a red hot Atlanta team. 

     Jrue Holiday will have the unenviable task of guarding Trae Young (more on that below) with PJ Tucker possibly getting a turn as well. After Young though, the Hawks are a team full of young, athletic slashers and shooters that keep a team on its toes for entire games. The Sixers employed 3 All-NBA defenders on their squad yet not even they could stop the offensive onslaught. The Bucks will need to be at their stingy best all series. 

The Freakiest

The last time the Bucks were in the Conference Finals was 2019 when Kawhi and the Raptors dismantled them in 6 games. Giannis has won 2 MVP’s and a DPOY award but has also seen his squad fall short in the playoffs time and time again. With last year’s collapse against the Miami Heat being the most glaring. Getting back to the Conference Finals is a great achievement but for a player of Giannis’ caliber; he needs to at least get a shot at the NBA Finals.  This season could be his best shot. 

It seems strange to say this about a two-time MVP but Giannis still has a lot to prove to put himself in the kind of historical company he wants to finish his career around.  To beat the Hawks he needs to be at his freaky best.  He’s found a way to play around his deficiencies as a shooter but it remains a liability (especially at the free throw line). Despite the shooting struggles though, he’s coming off a series where he averaged 31.9ppg, 12.9rpg and 3.6apg. To lead the Bucks to the Finals, he’s going to have to at least equal that production and be the best player in the series. 

 Coach Bud

Coach Mike Budenholzer has taken a lot of flack in recent years for his lack of adjustments and inability to get the most out of his roster. This year was a make or break for him in my opinion and I think the stakes remain the same in this round. Against Brooklyn he made some good adjustments in terms of defensive positioning and rotations but I still think his biggest weakness is in play-calling. The Bucks are consistently running OTA’s that make you scratch your head when watching them. 

The Hawks in particular will be a tough team to game plan around. For one, they’re much better than they were in the regular season. They’ve peaked at the perfect time and their collection of offensive talent is staggering. Failure to make in-game adjustments will destroy the Bucks chances. Although, coach Bud does have a history with Atlanta. As such, it’s possible he’s got some tricks up his sleeve. 

Series X-Factor: Jrue Holiday

    As a basketball junkie, I couldn’t be more excited to see Jrue Holiday try and defend Trae Young. This is precisely why the Bucks traded for him in the off-season. They believed he was a player that could be the difference between them winning or losing a series. This is where we see if that faith was warranted. On the offensive side, if Young is tasked with defending Holiday, Jrue will have to show out. He’s bigger, stronger and savy with the ball in a way that should give Young problems. Jrue has to make Young work on defense and put pressure on him to make stops while simultaneously stopping Ice Trae (to a certain extent) on the other end of the floor. It’s a tall task but that’s why Jrue was brought in. 

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2 responses to “2021 East Finals Preview”

  1. Bush Fruit with Morning Condensation Avatar
    Bush Fruit with Morning Condensation

    Logic says Bucks, but I would live to see Hawks upset

  2. Big Bird Avatar
    Big Bird

    My gut tells me Bucks in 6, but the hawks have been such a wild card team this postseason…if the series goes 7 it’s anyone’s series! Should be fun to watch!

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