Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers were led by solid performances from NBA MVP contender Joel Embiid and All-Star Ben Simmons. They took the top seed in the East and are set to face Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards.
The Sixers were closely followed by the Brooklyn Nets, who arguably have the best offense in the NBA and posted a comfortable victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1.
On the other hand, Tom Thibodeau’s New York Knicks took the 4th seed and will be up against 5th seed Atlanta Hawks later today. In this article, we look at the three favorites from the Eastern Conference who will be disappointed if they do not make their way to the NBA Finals this year.
2021 NBA Playoffs: The three favorites Eastern Conference favorites to make it to the Finals
The Milwaukee Bucks were not at their best against the Miami Heat but were able to rally to victory in overtime. The Philadelphia 76ers will kick off their NBA playoff campaign against the dangerous Washington Wizards later today.
The Brooklyn Nets are one of the favorites for this year’s titles on the basis of the fact that they have three of the best offensive players in the league. The Boston Celtics have been underwhelming and lost their first game against the Nets.
Without further ado, we look at the three top contenders to emerge from the Eastern Conference this year.
#3 Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks saw a mixed shooting performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 1 against the Heat and were remarkably poor from the 3-point line. However, they have an elite all-round superstar and a defensive unit capable of soaking up pressure for long spells.
Jrue Holiday showed off his elite defense and did a shutdown job on Jimmy Butler, while Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis were also impressive. The Bucks do, however, need to improve their perimeter defense and were caught out by the Heat multiple times from beyond the arc.
Regardless, the Milwaukee Bucks have in Holiday, Giannis and Middleton, three All-Star caliber players and an elite defensive unit. Coach Budenholzer's men are one of the favorites to make it to the NBA Finals this time around.
#2 Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers might feel hard done by the fact that they are not the runaway favorites to win the Conference title this year. However, Joel Embiid is in the race for the NBA MVP title, while the prolific scoring of Tobias Harris has been a huge boost.
Ben Simmons is a contender for the NBA Defensive Player of the Year award. This year's Sixers roster is their strongest in years, with Embiid having his career-best season as well. Seth Curry has been a welcome addition and has shot 45% from the 3-point line.
The Sixers also have a strong bench, with the 24-year old Shake Milton having his most prolific season so far. He has averaged 13 points and 3.1 assists to lead a strong bench that also includes the likes of Dwight Howard and Furkan Korkmaz.
#3 Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets were in control against the Boston Celtics in their first NBA Playoff game of the postseason. Kevin Durant was at his dominant best and top-scored with 32 points and had 12 rebounds. KD and Harden have both missed a number of matches due to injuries this season and there are questions around the roster's chemistry.
However, the two superstars along with Kyrie Irving have found their form and fitness at the right time. DeAndre Jordan was unavailable for the first match, which meant that Blake Griffin started at the Center spot. He is expected to return for Game 2.
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With their best players available, it seems difficult to look past the Brooklyn Nets as the clear favorites to win the NBA Championship this year.