March 6, 2020
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks 'Heavy, Heavy Favorites To Win The East' In 2019-20 Season, Says 'ESPN's Pelton

Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks continue to establish an impressive performance in the 2019-20 NBA season. As of now, the Bucks have won eight of their last 10 games and are currently sitting in the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference with a 53-9 record. However, their road to the 2020 NBA Finals isn't expected to be easy, especially with the emergence of other powerhouse teams in the conference, like the reigning NBA champions Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Recently, ESPN analysts held a discussion about the playoff teams in the Eastern Conference. Though it has indeed become wide open after Kawhi Leonard left the Raptors last summer, most ESPN analysts predicted the Bucks would make it to the NBA Finals this season. With the way they are currently playing on both ends of the floor, ESPN's Kevin Pelton believes that Antetokounmpo and the Bucks should be the "heavy, heavy favorite to win the East" this year.

"Milwaukee," Pelton said when asked who he thinks would represent the Eastern Conference in the 2020 NBA Finals. "Even if you have reservations about whether the Bucks' regular-season dominance will translate entirely to the playoffs, the Bucks will have the best player in every series and won't face any team that looks as formidable as last year's Raptors. They should be -- and are -- heavy, heavy favorites to win the East."

It is hardly a surprise that Milwaukee is considered to be the heavy favorites to fully dominate their conference. Despite earning an early playoff berth, they've remained consistent with their performance on both ends of the floor. As of now, they are tied with the Houston Rockets in the No. 2 spot in the NBA's offensive efficiency, scoring 111.2 points per 100 possessions and rank No. 1 in the NBA's defensive efficiency, only allowing 99.1 points per 100 possessions, per ESPN.

However, there are still some who don't see the Bucks becoming the new king of the Eastern Conference this season, including ESPN's Bobby Marks. Though the team is currently doing very well in the regular season, Marks said that playing in the postseason is much different. Aside from the added pressure, opposing teams would also have more time to study the Bucks' strategy and find a way to limit Antetokounmpo's production on both ends of the floor. He might be a frontrunner to win the 2020 Most Valuable Player award, but Marks doesn't consider him a "closer," which is needed by a team to have a higher chance of winning a best-of-seven series.