great preview of the likely Eastern Conference Finals tonight with Toronto facing Philly. Philly looks like they still have a ways to go until they are ready to knock off the Raptors, but by the end of the season they will probably get there.
If season stopped now, I would have to agree with this but it doesn't and we are getting better and will be in the conference finals. My guess is vs. Raptors. We will beat Sixers again the playoffs to get to that Raptors match up is my guess. Pedigree and Coaching wins almost always...we have the edge in both.
Boston will get better as Hayward's health improves. He still looks like he has a ways to go until his athleticism fully returns, but I'm targeting post all-star break as a time when he can return to a borderline all-star level of play.
Tatum is the greatest prospect we've had since Bird and I'm hopeful he continues to improve as the season goes on. He SHOULD eventually be an All-NBA level player and that leap can happen rapidly for young players. So it's fair to speculate that, if fully healthy, Boston will have 3 (4 if you include Horford) star-caliber players. At this very moment, we're a 1 star team sitting in the 6th seed.
As the season progresses, I think it's fair to expect Boston to move up to the 4th seed. Maybe 3rd. The 4th seed would be a tough position to be in, though... it would mean facing the Raptors on the road in Round 2 - and home court is probably going to be be significant.
Philly has 3 legitimate all-stars right now. Embiid is on most people's short list as an early MVP favorite. Redick is having a career year as well. This group is still extremely new together - so I'd be curious to see how they look in about 20 games, but from a pure talent standpoint, it's hard to say any team has more top-tier talent than Philly right now. I also think there's another move to be made this season if they want to make it. If I had to guess, it's their conference to lose this season.
I also don't think you can sleep on the Bucks. Giannis is another MVP candidate and Middleton is having an all-star season. They also have surrounded Giannis with guys who can light it up. Middleton shoots 42% from three, Brogdon is shooting 49% from three, Brook Lopez is a sneaky solid addition as he's shooting 37% from three, and Drew Bledsoe is shooting 36% from three. That makes them dangerous - moreso than last year when it's widely believed their coach totally dropped the ball.
I got Boston in the mix as one of the 4 teams capable of making the conference finals, but at present Philly is the logical choice to win the conference. They are going to have to get through Kawhi "New LeBron of the East" Leonard first.