From the perspective of the Milwaukee Bucks, the playoffs mirrored the regular season. They established themselves as the favorites, and aside from a few moments here and there, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the resurgent Bucks have dominated while waiting for a worthy challenger.
After dispatching the Boston Celtics in five games, one of the teams many believed to be in that group of contenders, the Raptors and the 76ers needed two more games to come up with an answer. Kawhi Leonard’s clutch buzzer-beater won Game 7 in Toronto, setting up a clash of two teams led by a virtuoso superstar to battle for Eastern supremacy.
Game 1 tips Wednesday in Milwaukee, with the Bucks coming off a week’s rest and getting Malcolm Brogdon back from injury. Meanwhile, the Raptors will head to Wisconsin off a grueling seven game series, having battled inconsistency late in the season and at times the playoffs. Neither team, as currently constructed, possesses significant experience navigating these waters, which means each have significant questions to answer.
Will this series follow the script of the regular season, with the Bucks simply outlasting the best the East has to offer? Or will the Raptors find a way to win games at the Fiserv Forum, something few teams have done this season, and steal a trip to the NBA Finals?