Why This is the Most Important Week for Three East Playoff Teams
There are times in a season where you know it’s a bigger week than normal. Normally these weeks happens during or around the playoffs. These weeks can define the direction of a series, or the direction of an entire franchise. This is one of those weeks for three separate franchises. What happens with the Raptors, Celtics, and Bucks will determine their future for the next few years. I’ll be looking at the best- and worst-case scenarios for these teams based on the outcome of this week.
Best Case:Best case scenario is that the Raptors make the finals. Shocking, because this is what most teams strive for, but the finals is vitally important for the Raptors in trying to keep Kawhi. If they can take Golden State to either 6 or 7 games, I believe that’s enough ammo for the Raptors to make a run in keeping Kawhi. Kyle Lowry has been better these playoffs, granted that’s not much considering the past few years, but he has been better. Pascal Siakam is hurt but he proved in the regular season he can be that second star behind Kawhi. The Raptors just need more consistency from their bench players. That was the strength of this Raptor’s squad the whole year was its’ depth. It would also be a great win for the let’s trade for a star on the last year of his deal squad. Paul George last year, Kawhi Leonard this year, I believe this would make multiple teams seriously think about trading for Anthony Davis. Even though his agent said he won’t re-sign anywhere except for a few teams, you have to take a chance if you’re a team not on that list.
Worst Case:Worst case scenario is that Kawhi walks this summer, and yeah it sucks losing a top 5 player. However, the pantry isn’t exactly empty in Toronto. Lowry is still one of the more underrated point guards in the league, Danny Green is solid, Marc Gasol is good, and Siakam is blooming into a star right in front of our eyes. All that being said, Toronto could also easily transition into a tanking team if they wanted. They would get something for Lowry and turn over the keys to the young guys. I’d really enjoy watching Fred VanVleet, OG Anunoby, and Siakam run the show in Toronto. It would be giving up a team that could win 45-50 games a year and being a top four seed, but that team isn’t going far without Kawhi, I would hope they would just try and get as many assets as possible to take the next step in their franchise history.
Best Case:Convincing Kyrie to stay while also trading for Anthony Davis. This season literally does not matter if you’re a Boston fan. If you can beat Milwaukee and getting to the conference finals, great. If you lose, but you get Anthony Davis, you live with it. With everything that has gone on off the court this year, it wouldn’t be the worst thing to get this team out of the spotlight for a few months. It’s clear that they have too many players that need minutes. I would be really surprised if Terry Rozier, Jason Tatum, Jalyn Brown, and Marcus Smart are all on this team next year. I’ll also say this…Gordon Hayward has looked more like himself the past six weeks, I would be a couple of teams would talk themselves into Hayward, and Danny Ainge definitely has a reputation of not giving an f about nothing and no one.
Worst Case: Well worst-case scenario is what we just watched this whole series. Kyrie just looked lost the last four games of the series, it wasn’t as weird as LeBron in 2009 against the Celtics, but it had a weird vibe. Gordon Hayward also just horrible this whole series, I’m not sure if he’s just taken a step back, or if we just need to give him more time. Before I go any further, I’d like to take this opportunity to say just how much of a joke Paul Pierce is on television. In January of 2018 he said that the LeBron James lead Cavs team would be the 8 seed in the East. The 8 seed…in the East. He needs to be taken off of television. To say a series is over after ONE GAME is just utterly ridiculous. Anyway, rant over! Now back to our regularly scheduled programming. I have no idea where the Celtics go from here, and frankly I don’t think they do either.
Best Case:This one is simple, keep Giannis at all cost. Nothing else matter besides Giannis. This man is going to win multiple MVP’s and turn the NBA upside down, so you need to keep him in a green and white uniform. Seasons like this will help, especially if they can make it past Toronto or Philly in the next round. The other part of this is being sure to keep bringing in talent to Milwaukee. Middleton is good but he’s about to need an expensive contract, they’ve already paid Eric Bledsoe, and Malcolm Brogdon is about to come off the books. I’m not saying they need to keep all of these players, but they do need to make sure they always have talent around Giannis.
Worst Case:For those who don’t know about pre-agency, it’s when a player is in his next to last year of his current deal. For example, this season was Anthony Davis’s pre-agency year. Next year is Giannis’s pre-agency year, which means we are going to see teams leak info about how you can’t win in Milwaukee, or no free agents want to go there, even if Giannis is there. We see it all the time, we saw this was Paul George, we saw it this year with A.D., and we’ll see it again next year with Giannis. That’s why Milwaukee needs to make Giannis priority number one moving forward.