The Eastern Conference Finals were decided today and boy, is this one a doozy. Both teams have stumbled their way through seven games against conference leaders and championship favorites, and both teams will be raring to test themselves against the other, in a matchup that surely nobody expected for the Conference final.
The Milwaukee Bucks have reached the finals somewhat flustered, a little hungover, but very happy with themselves after thrashing the Miami Heat 4-0 and pulling off an epic 7-game-plus-overtime comeback against tournament favorites Brooklyn Nets. Giannis Antetokounmpo and co. won a battle of sheer resilience against Kevin Durant’s regular 40-point heroics to book their Final spot, where they will face the Atlanta Hawks.
The Hawks had an equally hard road getting to the finals, fighting off the Philly Sixers, once again in seven games, in an incredibly tight matchup. Nevertheless, the play-offs have been a bit of a revelation for the team as a whole and particularly for Trae Young, who’s shown his chops in leading the team to more than one historical game – the highlight being a win in Game 5 after coming back from being a whopping 26 points down. A cynic, though, would say that the Hawks were helped along a bit by Philadelphia star man Joel Embiid’s poor health, which was possibly a decisive factor in the heavily-favored first-seeds losing their place to Atlanta.
Both teams have played seven games, both teams have star players in fine form – at opposite ends of the pitch, too – and both teams have shown that they have the mental fortitude to keep going no matter what. But when your money’s on the line, the Bucks look like good value. Giannis is quite literally Michael Jordan come again, and Trae Young, with all due respect, is no KD. The Hawks would be slight underdogs – partly because they’ve gotten less rest, partly because they don’t have the Bucks’ roster, and partly because the Sixers win is mostly accurately described as a miracle – but it wouldn’t be a massive shock if they ended up winning the Conference.