Last Season: 60-22, 1st in conference (1st overall).
Eastern Conference Finalists
Expected Starters: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Wesley Matthews.
After dominating from start to finish last season, Milwaukee will have high hopes after a devastating 4-2 loss in the 2018/19 Eastern Conference finals, after leading the series 2-0.
While many teams around them have strengthened, Milwaukee have played it cool with minimal roster changes ahead of the new season. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be raring to go after an incredible MVP season last year and will be joined by older brother Thanasis for the first time in their NBA Careers.
Giannis dominated the league averaging a second consecutive double-double with 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on average per game. While Giannis has taken the majority of the headlines, a lot of credit should also fall in the hands of the four other regular starters. Bledsoe, Middleton and Lopez were exceptional for Milwaukee last season and keeping these players together was a must for the Bucks to challenge again this season.
Personally, I think Milwaukee are still the team to beat in the East with Toronto losing Kawhi and the teams around them not making any drastic improvements. With 60 wins last season, they will no doubt be aiming to better that record after topping the entire league in 2018/19. We should also see a strong push from Giannis Antetokounmpo to retain his MVP award.
Last Season: 42-40, 6th in conference (14th overall).
Lost first round of 2018/19 playoffs vs Philadelphia 76ers.
Expected Starters: Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan, Caris Levert, Joe Harris, Rodions Kurucs
Brooklyn have a lot to be excited for in the coming years but they will have to get through the entire 2019/20 season without Kevin Durant. KD signed a 4-year deal with the Nets in June but will likely miss the season with an Achilles injury suffered in Game 5 of the 2018/19 NBA Finals.
They still have a lot to be excited for with Kyrie Irving, DeAndre Jordan and Wilson Chandler also joining the team in the offseason. Questions were asked about Kyrie after a tough few years at the Celtics but the former NBA Champion still averaged over 24 points per game while shooting over 49% from the field in the 127 games played. The former Celtic was also spotted training with Kobe Bryant in the offseason as he looks to be a star man alongside Kevin Durant in Brooklyn.
Alongside Kyrie will be current 3-pt All-Star Champion Joe Harris and Caris LeVert who both had a decent season with the Nets which edged them into the 2018/19 playoffs. The Nets are as short as 1/4 to make the playoffs this season and will no doubt see some improvement with the depth in their squad.
Last Season: 51-31, 3rd in conference (6th overall).
Eastern Conference Semi-Finalists
Expected Starters: Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Al Horford, Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson
After a heart-breaking buzzer-beater loss to the Toronto Raptors in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals, the Philadelphia 76ers will look to restart the process in the 2019/20 season. They head into the new season without Jimmy Butler who was traded to the Miami Heat in a deal which also involved Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers. Long story short, Philadelphia have Josh Richardson starting at Shooting Guard for the 2019/20 season.
While the Sixers finished 3rd in the East last season, their squad depth will be huge for them this year with Joel Embiid continuing to struggle with a back injury. The option of Al Horford playing center for Philly is there but he will more than likely start at Power Forward to partner alongside Embiid. Horford had a thrilling 3 seasons with the Celtics who were devastated to see him opt with the Sixers. His 14 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists will certainly be an asset for Philly but he too has had injury problems in the past.
Whether this Philly side can remain injury-free is a question for another day but on paper, they look an exceptional team. They have two starting caliber players at Center this season and are definitely one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference. However, it will be tough for them to exceed expectations and I think they’ll equal their record of last season. The loss of Jimmy Butler may hit them harder than they think. I still fully expect them to make the playoffs and pose a huge threat in the post-season but it will be tough to rack up wins against a stacked league this season.
Last Season: 49-33 6th in conference (9th overall).
Eastern Conference Quarter-Finalists
Expected Starters: Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter
2018/19 wasn’t a great season for the Boston Celtics who massively struggled to grind wins in the regular season. They were thrashed by Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Quarter Finals and definitely needed a change ahead of the new season.
While losing Kyrie Irving would be a loss to 99% of teams, I think it is exactly what the Celtics needed with Kyrie questioning his future in Boston. With that being said, Kemba Walker is the perfect addition to this side alongside Enes Kanter at center. Although Kyrie was the notable departure, Al Horford may prove to be a bigger loss in the upcoming season after leaving for a conference rival.
Enes Kanter will still be a huge asset to this Boston side who definitely have the potential to improve on their 49-33 record of last season. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown have more than enough talent to help this Celtics side challenge this season and they should be able to hold off potential competition from Detroit and Brooklyn.
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