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Eastern Conference predictions: Sixers over Bucks


The NBA’s Eastern Conference is not without its charms.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is in the East. So is Joel Embiid. And the O’Brien Trophy.

Kevin Durant is coming. So are the Hawks and maybe the Bulls.

It’s not a desolate conference. It’s just not as deep or as interesting as the West. Hasn’t been for decades.

But we still can follow it, and here are my predictions for the Eastern Conference, 2019-20:

1. Milwaukee 61-21: Will that bouncing ball, Kawhi Leonard’s jumper that bounced on the rim five times before falling through to beat the Bucks last year in the East finals, have a profound effect on the future of Eastern Conference basketball? If Milwaukee doesn’t make the NBA Finals this season, it could.

2. Philadelphia 58-24: No J.J. Redick, no Jimmy Butler. But Al Horford is a ballplaying fool who joins nicely with Embiid and Ben Simmons. I’ve got Embiid as the league MVP.

3. Boston 49-33: We seem to have forgotten about the Celtics as a contender, after the shine went off Brad Stevens’ star a year ago. But it says here that Stevens’ coaching will return, now that Kyrie Irving is someone else’s problem.

4. Miami 47-35: Will the Heat trade for Chris Paul? Seems more and more unlikely. Some say Kyle Lowry is on Miami’s radar.

5. Indiana 45-37: If Victor Oladipo returns soon, this prediction holds. If not, uh-oh.

6. Brooklyn 43-39: The Netropolitans were solid a year ago. Give them Irving, and anything could happen. I’m predicting one game better.

7. Toronto 41-41: The Raptors still have Pascal Siakam, Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol and Lowry. In the East, that’s more than enough to make the playoffs.

8. Orlando 40-42: The Magic had a nice year in 2018-19, going 42-40 and winning a playoff game against Toronto.

9. Detroit 39-43: Blake Griffin is in Purgatory. Wonder if anything works for him coming to Oklahoma City?

10. Atlanta 34-48: The Hawks are going to stink again, but look out. Lots of good young players, led by Trae Young.

11. New York 33-49: Some people are optimistic about the Knickerbockers. Some people drink to excess.

12. Chicago 32-50: Some people are optimistic about the Bulls. I can see that more than I can see the Knicks.

13. Charlotte 29-53: Whenever you get to feeling bummed about the Thunder’s diminished fortunes, just think of Charlotte, and you’ll feel better.

14. Cleveland 24-58: LeBron James seems long ago and far away.

15. Washington 23-59: Bradley Beal signed an extension. Not every NBA star is looking for a gravy train.

Playoffs

First round

Bucks over Magic in 4

Heat over Pacers in 5

Sixers over Raptors in 4

Celtics over Nets in 7

East semifinals

Bucks over Heat in 5

Sixers over Celtics in 4

East Finals

Sixers over Bucks in 7

NBA Finals

Clippers over Sixers in 5

Related Photos
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz's Ed Davis during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz's Ed Davis during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-3dddc00b3b6ec6f57335fe2b34de7d3a.jpg" alt="Photo - Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz's Ed Davis during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)" title="Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz's Ed Davis during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)"><figcaption>Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives to the basket against Utah Jazz's Ed Davis during the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)</figcaption></figure>
Berry Tramel

Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,... Read more ›

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