Despite the fact that the Milwaukee Bucks may have had the biggest superstar addition to their roster this summer, most pundits still believe that the Boston Celtics are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference. This is especially after Boston acquired former Bucks star Jrue Holiday from the Portland Trail Blazers after he was shipped off by Milwaukee as part of the Dame trade.
This development, along with another key factor, is one of the burning questions the Bucks will need to answer in the case that they end up facing off against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Did Milwaukee Bucks Win Damian Lillard-Jrue Holiday Trade?
Darren Hartwell of NBC Sports Boston recently conjured up a list of the teams he believes will post the biggest challenge to the Celtics in the East. Naturally, the Bucks were atop his five-team roster.
Hartwell acknowledged the fact that Damian Lillard’s arrival takes Milwaukee to another level on the offensive end. However, they are now facing a big question defensively:
“Lillard gives the Bucks’ offense a massive boost, and the Lillard-Antetokounmpo pick-and-roll combo should be lethal. But Milwaukee lost a massive defensive presence in Holiday, who’s now on the rival Celtics. The question will be whether Lillard can hold his own defensively in a seven-game playoff series, and whether Khris Middleton can stay healthy enough to be make legitimate contributions on both ends,” Hartwell wrote.
Will the Bucks end up regretting letting Holiday go? They obviously had no control over where he would eventually land, but the fact that he ended up with Boston is probably the worst possible outcome for Milwaukee.
Will Khris Middleton Be Healthy?
The other compelling question raised centers around Khris Middleton’s health. Already, the three-time All-Star has been struggling to get back on the court in the preseason. He missed all but one of the Bucks’ five preseason contests, with the 32-year-old making a 12-minute cameo in his team’s final preseason game.
Middleton is expected to play on Friday in Milwaukee’s season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers, but if his health concerns carry over to the regular season, then the Bucks could be in trouble.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dame Lillard will do their thing, but Middleton could be the X-Factor that takes this team over the hump. He obviously won’t be able to do that if he’s not on the basketball court.
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