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Neighborhood Watch: Eastern Playoff Team Ceilings...and Floors

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Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

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 peek through our curtains and gossip about everybody else behind their backs, as we look at projecting the highs – and lows – of the Eastern Conference playoff teams.

Under Mike Budenholzer and behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks have become a buzzsaw, the likes of which haven’t been seen in the NBA for quite some time.

As long as Giannis is healthy – and we all truly hope he is – the ceiling for Milwaukee is so high we can barely see it. The Bucks have demonstrated a capability for winning games against top-flight competition; even if they do get caught playing with their food, playoff opponents aren’t on the same level as the Suns or Cavaliers. The floor is much higher than Bucks fans are used to this season...but everything after the first round is gonna be tough, no way around that.

Current Bucks Rankings

Record: 57-19 (1st in East, 1st in NBA)
Offensive Rating: 113.8 (4th in NBA)
Defensive Rating: 104.6 (1st in NBA)
Net Rating: +9.2 (1st in NBA)

Toronto RaptorsRaptorsHQ

Ceiling: Win the Finals, as Kawhi Leonard plays like he did in 2014 and Pascal Siakam takes the next leap. Meanwhile, Kyle Lowry doesn’t realize it’s the playoffs and Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka maintain balance in the big man rotation.

Floor: Lose in the second round to Philly...if they even get there.

Toronto has very real playoff demons that could come back around, especially if rotation players like Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, or Norman Powell don’t add consistent value.

Boston CelticsCelticsBlog

Ceiling: Everything comes together for a run at the Finals, because there’s too much dang talent on this team to keep them down forever. However, a more likely ceiling is that the Cs make the conference finals...then get crushed. If there is an Eastern Conference Finals appearance, we don’t think Boston has it together enough to beat Milwaukee or Toronto. They would need to face Philly to have a shot.

Floor: Lose to Indy in the first round as Gordon Hayward continues to look like a shell of himself, Terry Rozier counts the money he’ll make in free agency, and Kyrie Irving ponders whether the moon is actually made of cheese.

Philadelphia 76ersLiberty Ballers

Ceiling: The Sixers are a weird team, but that starting five is REALLY good. They could legitimately make it to the Finals and win it on the backs of Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris.

Floor: After the starters, the depth is exposed, and so is Ben Simmons’ lack of shooting. JJ Redick goes cold, Jimmy causes problems by picking on Boban Marjanovic, causing the Sixers to implode in the first round.

Indiana PacersIndy Cornrows

Ceiling: Indy is a pain in the ass to play against. They could easily win a first round matchup and push Milwaukee or Toronto to a 7 game series in the second round.

Floor: The absence of Victor Oladipo is too much, and teams will not sleep on the Pacers in the playoffs like they might in the regular season. Indy could lose its first round series in 5 games.

Brooklyn NetsNets Daily

Ceiling: DeAngelo Russell goes on a Kemba-esque NCAA tourney run and leads the Nets to an outlier shooting series, winning their first matchup.

Floor: Brooklyn goes cold and gets swept by the Raptor or Sixers.

Miami HeatHot Hot Hoops

Ceiling: The Heat aren’t bad...but they’re not good. Maybe they get lucky and win two games, but there’s little chance of them advancing.

Floor: Swept in the first round.

Detroit PistonsDetroit Bad Boys

Ceiling: Blake Griffin’s all-around game pushes their series to 7; despite their impressive performance against the Raptors, I don’t think Playoff and Toronto Thon Maker can power Detroit all the way to the second round.

Floor: Getting swept by the Sixers or Raptors.

Orlando MagicOrlando Pinstriped Post

Ceiling: Making the playoffs and maybe winning a game. There’s no shame in a gentleman’s sweep!

Floor: Missing the playoffs entirely; considering the last decade of this team, even being in playoff contention is a win for them.


These takes aren’t scientific, so the margin for error is pretty wide. Where did we get it wrong? What do you think we got right? Let us know in the comments, and join us as we count down the days until the NBA Playoffs start.