Staff Writer: Ryan Ward
The Eastern Conference isn’t exactly the conference it used to be back in the 80s and 90s, but as we see young teams emerge like LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers and Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic the conference might be back on the rise again with a promising future.
Even though the Cavs and the Magic are the teams to beat in the East right now, there are a few teams in the conference that are starting to make waves and could quite possibly make some noise in the playoffs this season.
There are still four spots in the Eastern Conference that are up for grabs with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Orlando Magic, Atlanta Hawks and the Boston Celtics taking the top four spots in the conference.
Even though there are just a handful of games left in the NBA regular season, there are only five teams left in contention for the final four spots in the East. The Miami Heat are sitting at the five spot, the Milwaukee Bucks are clinging on the four spot and the Charlotte Bobcats and Toronto Raptors round out the field with the Chicago Bulls on the outside looking in.
Out of all five teams in the East fighting for the final four playoffs spots, the Milwaukee Bucks are perhaps the most surprising and most impressive team right now as they have just dominated in the second half of the NBA season after trading for John Salmons before the NBA trade deadline in mid February.
Coming into this season the Milwaukee Bucks really didn’t know what to expect or what to look for besides seeing what rookie point guard Brandon Jennings could do in the backcourt. Despite a lot of speculation on Jennings skills and questionable attitude, the young kid who just decided to go to Italy before company NBA has turned out to be one of the most promising young point guards in the league today and the future superstar on the rise.
Even though Brandon Jennings might not win the Rookie of the Year award this season due to another rookie point guard in Tyreke Evans of the Sacramento Kings having a similar breakout year, Jennings has been held to the help the team turn itself around and become a playoff contender in the Eastern conference once again.
The Milwaukee Bucks may be a team on the rise but there also team in the middle the drastic change as former face of the franchise Michael Redd has gone down with the second straight season ending knee injury and may have played his last game in Milwaukee. Along with Redd being somewhat phased out with the Bucks, All-Star caliber center Andrew Bogut has also had arguably his best season as a Pro looks like he could also be a superstar on the rise in the NBA.
As if these two players coming into their own weren’t surprising enough in terms of the team’s future, John Salmons has been arguably the best acquisition any team has made via trade this season as he’s turned into a virtual scoring machine in one of the unsung leaders of the Bucks moving forward.
If the playoffs were to start today the Milwaukee Bucks and face off against the Atlanta Hawks and even though the Hawks are have a breakout year their own, I believe the Brandon Jennings and company could give them a run for their money and could quite possibly be somewhat of a Cinderella story in the Eastern conference.