The Milwaukee Bucks have yet to play 60 games and have already clinched a playoff berth. The defending Eastern Conference champions are 50-8 after their first 58 games and hold an eight-game lead over second-place Toronto.
The Bucks’ most recent loss was to Indiana, which is likely to finish sixth in the East. Milwaukee has a 99 percent chance of holding onto the top spot and earning the East’s No. 1 seed for the second straight season.
As it stands currently, Milwaukee would likely face Orlando or Brooklyn in the first round of the postseason. In their last game against the Magic, Milwaukee won 111-95. The results were similar the last time the Bucks face the Nets. Reigning NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in a 117-97 Bucks’ win.
Miami and Philadelphia are in the No. 4 and No. 5 positions in the Eastern Conference standings. Milwaukee should easily dispose of its first-round opponent and then would face the winner of the Heat-Sixers series.
Both Miami and Philadelphia have a victory over Milwaukee this season, though the Heat’s win came in the second game of the season. Boston, another Eastern Conference favorite, also has an early-season win over the Bucks.
It would appear highly likely that the Bucks would once again meet the defending champion Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference finals. The Raptors have a 53 percent chance of earning the No. 2 seed and a 41 percent chance of landing at No. 3. Either way, Toronto is built for a deep playoff despite not having last year’s NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard.
The Bucks and Raptors have met twice thus far this season. Milwaukee has won both games by double digits. Is that an indication of things to come in the postseason? Last year, the Bucks won three of the four regular-season games against Toronto but bowed out in the conference finals in six games.
Don’t expect that to happen in 2020. Antetokounmpo (29.7 ppg, 13.7 rpg, 5.8 apg) is having another MVP-worthy season. Khris Middleton (21.1 ppg) and Eric Bledsoe (15.8 ppg) are quality scorers and head coach Mike Budenholzer’s bench is deep.
While Toronto does have Pascal Siakam, last year’s Most Improved NBA Player, they lack the star power of Leonard, now with the Los Angeles Clippers. The Raptors are very good defensively, but not good enough to slow down the Bucks in 2020.
2020 Eastern Conference Playoff picture if the season finished today
1. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Toronto Raptors
3. Boston Celtics
4. Miami Heat
5. Philadelphia 76ers
6. Indiana Pacers
7. Brooklyn Nets
8. Orlando Magic