The Bucks are a force to be reckoned with this season, having already clinched a spot in the upcoming postseason.
But is there a team in the Eastern Conference that actually could beat Milwaukee come playoff time? According to ESPN’s Max Kellerman, there is — the Boston Celtics.
“I actually think, and I know it’s not in style now to say it it’s the Celtics,” Kellerman said Wednesday on “First Take.” “I think the Celtics are (the biggest threat to the Bucks in the East) and I’ll tell you why.
“No. 1, the Sixers (Philadelphia 76ers) are down Ben Simmons. I think the Sixers are the worst matchup for the Bucks, actually, at full strength. But we don’t know anything (about his injury) … He’s out indefinitely, they’ll re-evaluate in two weeks. We have no idea what’s going on with Ben Simmons, so I have to table them right now. I know the Raptors have been doing great — they’re down Kawhi (Leonard) permanently, he’s gone. So you look at the (Miami) Heat, there are reasons to like them.
“… But when I look at every other team in the East, and maybe I’m too old school this way, I ask myself — who has the player where the best play on that team is capable of being your primary scoring option, at least, on a Finals team. And I think that’s the Celtics. I think Jayson Tatum is a special and different kind of talent. Talent, plus the polished game already. And he’s starting to come into his own. … (Gordon) Hayward is healthy. Jaylen Brown is balling. You have Jayson Tatum, who I just mentioned is putting up back-to-back 30-plus point games now, and if you look at the Celtics, they’re not deep — and that’s an issue, there’s no doubt about it. But when they’re fully healthy, they almost never lose. And that cant just be ignored. When firing on all cylinders, they’re just about as good as any team in basketball. And for me, it comes down to when you have a squad, who’s your best player? Can I see him being the best player on a Finals team? Yes I can, Jayson Tatum, yes I can.”
And while Smith likes Tatum, he has a different opinion about beating the Bucks.
“When I look at the Milwaukee Bucks, clearly the creme de la creme of the Eastern Conference this year, how do you beat them? I think the team that comes to my mind is the Miami Heat,” Smith said. “When I look at the Miami Heat, clearly size is a factor and I understand that. The thing is, the Miami Heat is the second-ranked 3-point shooting team in the NBA. They beat Milwaukee in the one matchup they had against them this year, albeit it was the second game of the season and it was even without Jimmy Butler. But when I watched the game last night against Toronto … it’s difficult to shoot over these guys. They come out, they send taller guys out on the wing, and then if you drive into the teeth of their defense, they got a bunch of tree waiting out there for you in Milwaukee. How do you offset that? By having bigger dudes that can shoot perimeter shots. And that is what Miami has in Butler, in Duncan Robinson, in Tyler Herro. I know Kendrick Nunn, he doesn’t have that kind of size but I like him a lot. Bam Adebayo, this brother is big time in the open court as well.
“They’ve got athletes. They’ve got thoroughbreds. They’ve got guys that can play above the rim. They’ve got guys that can shoot from the damn parking lot. This is who Miami is and I think that’s the one ingredient that could ultimately humble the Milwaukee Bucks.”
You can check out the full conversation below: