In the past week, the Eastern Conference has seen two of its heavyweights get even richer. First, the Milwaukee Bucks traded away Jrue Holiday in a three-team deal that brought back Damian Lillard.
Milwaukee has proven to be an automatic third-seed with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way.
While they were finally able to capture the Larry O’Brien in 2021 with a roster spearheaded by the big three of the Greek Freak, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton, their half-court offensive woes in the postseason didn’t stop after they earned their first championship.
This especially reared its ugly head in this past offseason, when they were delivered a first-round upset by the Miami Heat who effectively shut down Milwaukee’s offense.
Now, with Damian Lillard on board, the Bucks just added one of the most dangerous half-court offensive threats in the league. Dame’s limitless range will vastly open up the court for Antetokounmpo and Middleton to attack the interior.
Going from Jrue Holiday to Lillard is obviously a downgrade on defense, but Lillard’s offensive gifts easily make this team a much greater and more consistent threat to win the title year in and year out.
Eastern Conference Odds
|New York Knicks||+2100|
In response to Milwaukee’s blockbuster addition, the Boston Celtics added backcourt reinforcements of their own. Piggybacking off of Milwaukee’s trade, the Cs made their own move with the Portland Trail Blazers right after Dame was dealt away, swapping Robert Williams III and draft compensation for Jrue Holiday.
Right after the Blazers traded Dame, they immediately hosted an auction for arguably Lillard’s greatest kryptonite in the NBA: Holiday. Having seen Milwaukee take a significant leap in their title chances, Boston wasted no time working to neutralize the Bucks’ big addition.
The National Basketball Association (NBA) Eastern Conference is divided into three divisions of five teams, which are the Atlantic, Central and Southeast.
Elsewhere in the Eastern Conference, the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers have to be biting themselves for how their offseasons have gone so far. The Heat lost both their Plan A and Plan B for adding another superstar when Dame was traded to the Bucks, as that deal also guaranteed Giannis’s future in Milwaukee.
The Sixers watched the Blazers land an absolute haul in return for Lillard while they’re still struggling to find a suitable package for James Harden. All the while, the Beard is actively working in spite of his current team.
With the Lillard and Holiday acquisitions, the Bucks and the Celtics have widened the gap between them and the rest of the Eastern Conference playoff hopefuls.
The NBA today released its complete game schedule for the 2023-24 regular season.
🏀 Schedule by day: https://t.co/xbV9h7p4pT
🏀 Schedule by team: https://t.co/DpwzhGB94u
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) August 17, 2023
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| Title: The NBA Eastern Conference is a two-horse race
| Author: Andy Quach
| Date: October 4th, 2023