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NBA Neighborhood Watch: The Crowded Eastern Conference

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The Bucks still rank among the league’s best in several categories, but other teams in the East are hot on their heels.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to the Brew Hoop Neighborhood Watch. The NBA is a vibrant community, and while the Milwaukee Bucks are our preferred resident, we still want to be in touch with our neighbors around the league. After all, that’s what good neighbors are for. Today, we look in the rearview mirror to see the glut of teams making up the Bucks’ rivals in the Eastern Conference. Remember, even though Milwaukee is chasing the first seeded Toronto Raptors, objects in the mirror are closer than they appear...

Current Bucks Rankings

Record: 19-9 (2nd in East)
Pythagorean Record: 21-7 (1st in East)
Offensive Rating: 114.1 (3rd in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 105.4 (4th in NBA)
Strength of Schedule: 0.14 (16th in NBA)

Indiana PacersIndy Cornrows

Record: 19-10

People knew that Indy was going to be good, but few expected for them to be this good.

The Pacers have a number of things working in their favor. Thaddeus Young has bounced around the league, but seems to have found a role that works the best for both him and his team. Fans panned the Doug McDermott signing in the summer, but he appears to be rounding into form. Myles Turner has always been enigmatic, but even with his improved play, Domantas Sabonis will not be denied playing time. And through all of this, Pacers All Star Victor Oladipo missed significant time with a knee injury...and the Pacers came together and performed better even without him.

Philadelphia 76ersLiberty Ballers

Record: 19-11

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are enough reason for optimism, and the Sixers went out and added Jimmy Butler on top of that. Nevertheless, the team is not setting the pace for the Eastern Conference, in no small part due to their limited depth.

Clearly, the Sixers would be improved by having another player capable of creating his own shot to assist Simmons with those bench-heavy units — a role Markelle Fultz was supposed to fill with aplomb upon being drafted first overall two summers ago. Whether Fultz can fill such a role upon a possible return or the Sixers need to obtain such a player via trade remains to be seen, but an upgrade has to come from somewhere.

Markelle Fultz sees his weird-as-hell season continue, and nobody knows if he’ll ever play in Philly (or at all!) again. Elsewhere, podcast darling (and former Buck) JJ Redick is a part of the Sixers’ struggles. Philly fans are looking to Milwaukee for Simmons-at-center inspiration. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention his shooting...

Boston CelticsCeltics Blog

Record: 18-11

Don’t look now, but the Celtics are not the .500 team we saw earlier in the season. They won 8 straight before dropping their last game against Detroit, but it was not all rosy for three of their vaunted young talents: Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Terry Rozier.

Many of their issues stem from the fact that neither Brown, Tatum, or Rozier are consistent playmakers. Most of their minutes together are spent with Hayward as the primary ball handler working out of the pick-and-roll, but if that initial action doesn’t bear fruit, the offense often disintegrates into a wild drive or isolation play.

Ah, right, Gordon Hayward. He (understandably) hasn’t looked 100% yet this year, but that’s expected to change.

In other news, Kyrie Irving is still turning heads, and Robert Williams somehow doesn’t like the nickname “Time Lord.” Too bad, Robert, your nickname is “Time Lord.”


And as the Green Bay Packers were eliminated from the playoffs today, here’s your periodic update that things for the Bucks are looking up: