The Eastern Conference juggernauts are all bound for the next round. The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks quickly finished up their series with 4 – 0 sweeps over the Orlando Magic and Indiana Pacers. The Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers sit closely behind as they lead their respective series and are looking to close out the opponents in five games.
With so much talent preparing to clash in the heat of the playoffs, each team brings something special that sets them apart from one another.
The Milwaukee Bucks are the most complete team in basketball right now.
Yes, that's even compared to the Golden State Warriors. They have MVP-caliber player Giannis Antetokounmpo, who averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and four assists per game on 52 percent shooting in the series against the Magic. His talent is combined with role players Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez, who add on between 14-20 points a game while also competing on the defensive end, holding opponents to only 40 percent shooting from the field. With a big-time star, contributing pieces in the rotation, and an excellent coach in Mike Budenholzer who has drastically improved this team's play since being hired, this team is the full package.
The Boston Celtics are a rollercoaster team getting low at the right time.
Despite a season of locker room turmoil swarmed with talks of trade rumors and free agency, this team has dismissed all that in pursuit of postseason success. Coming off a season where they reached the conference finals without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, this team still has significant expectations now that their stars are healthy. Their playoff rotation is showing off why they may just have one of the most talented rosters in the league. Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, and Al Horford are all averaging double figures in points, with Irving leading the charge with 22 points per game. Irving is a clutch superstar point guard, playing alongside coached-up role players that shine when the lights are brightest.
As for the Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors, they both entered the playoffs rusty.
This showed when they both were upset in game one of their respective series. They both have a trio of star players that the team leans on to provide big scoring outputs on a night to night basis.
The Raptors may be the last complete team left in the playoffs.
The Raptors have a star player, a strong bench and a rising coach in Nick Nurse. Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam have also done their part, both averaging over 20 points per game so far in this year's playoffs.
It's Kyle Lowry who is the missing puzzle piece of the Raptors' chances of reaching the finals. Starting off the playoffs with an 0 of 7 shooting night and only averaging 11 points for the series won't cut it if this team looks to further advance through the playoffs. If Kyle Lowry can show out in a series against his hometown team as role players like Norman Powell, Danny Green, Serge Ibaka, and others continue to step up, it could be argued that this team has enough firepower to win the NBA Finals. After seasons of being taken out by the Lebron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers, this new regime has a chance to right all the wrongs of the past by continuing to advance with Leonard at the helm.
The 76ers have Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Jimmy Butler playing out of their minds, but they are still an immature group with a naïve coach.
As a young team that is still trying to integrate Butler and Tobias Harris, this team is special, but lacking in the places that matter. The 76ers may be able to get to the second round off of pure talent within their starting lineup, but Brent Brown will have to become more of a factor as he looks to go against the likes of the Raptors' Nick Nurse, who is no slouch in terms of cerebral coaching.
Despite these flaws, this team is very versatile on defense with length. The 76ers have the potential to dominate the paint, which gives them a puncher's chance against any of the teams left in the playoffs.
The title of best team in the conference is vacant at the moment and all four teams are in high pursuit for the top spot. With each team having their own strengths and weaknesses, the Eastern Conference semifinals will highlight some of the best players in the league battling against one another for the crown of "Beast of the East."