Bulls & Cavs have nothing to lose in playoffs, both teams took huge steps forward this season
Notes: Now that the Bulls & Cavs have proved themselves, just getting to the playoffs/play-in tournament isn’t going to cut it (especially for Cleveland since adding Donovan Mitchell). Doing the little things played a major role in how they got beat last postseason, so making the right adjustments/staying disciplined will be a huge focus for both.
Bucks will need Brook Lopez & Serge Ibaka to be ready on defense following loss of PJ Tucker, bench struggling without Pat Connaughton as Bobby Portis continues starting for Lopez
Notes: I was right about this one, as Milwaukee’s defense couldn’t hold up against Boston in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Lopez struggled to get out on shooters while Ibaka didn’t get any real playoff minutes. Jrue Holiday defended hard, but Wes Matthews got burnt. Even with Khris Middleton coming back healthy for 2023, last year’s playoffs were a big reminder that the Bucks need to improve their defense.
Warriors facing questions about health & lineup rotations going into playoffs
Notes: This was an observation I wasn’t really too concerned about based on Golden State’s history of winning. The Warriors got healthy at the end of the season, and even though Steve Kerr didn’t have a set 5th guy next to Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and Andrew Wiggins, he always plugged in the right fit for each series by using a bunch of different players. Most of the time Kevon Looney was that guy, as he had an amazing playoff run.
We know Phoenix can get back to the Finals, playoff adjustments should be their biggest focus
Notes: Phoenix made the two adjustments I mentioned (getting Mikal Bridges more shots during the playoffs/adding extra size in JaVale McGee & Bismack Biyombo). However, what I’ve come to learn during these last two postseason exits from the Suns is that they only have one legit defender in Bridges. Phoenix had no answers for Giannis Antetokounmpo & Luka Doncic in those losses. I know they’re great players, but if you want to win a championship you’re gonna have to go through superstars like that to come out on top, and I just don’t think the Suns have that both individually/as a team defensively.