The Milwaukee Bucks' made arguably the biggest splash of the NBA offseason by acquiring superstar point guard Damian Lillard in a trade with the Portland Trail Blazers last month.
The move gives the Bucks one of the best duos in the league featuring Lillard and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. The rest of Milwaukee's roster is pretty good, too, including Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez. After all, this team led the league with a 58-24 record in the 2022-23 regular season.
But how well do the Bucks match up with the other top contenders in the Eastern Conference? It's an important question after Milwaukee's embarrassing first-round exit to the Miami Heat in last season's playoffs. The Boston Celtics look like the best team in the conference after bolstering an already fantastic roster with center Kristaps Porzingis and point guard Jrue Holiday via offseason trades.
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One scout recently told Sports Illustrated's Chris Mannix that he doesn't think the Bucks match up well against the Celtics, and he pointed to one specific reason.
"That lack of athleticism will be a problem in the playoffs," the scout said. "Because Boston’s pretty athletic just because of [Jayson] Tatum and [Jaylen] Brown. Philly’s a s--- show, so who knows there. They would probably match up poorly versus Cleveland. I think they match up poorly versus Boston. I also could see Milwaukee struggling more with the Detroits of the world. The Pacers are going to be a real thorn in that team’s side."
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The Celtics do have a ton of wing players, or players who can at least defend wings. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White and Holiday are all very good perimeter defenders with impressive athleticism. Add in center Al Horford and the Celtics have plenty of defenders to throw at Antetokounmpo in a playoff series.
No team in the East -- and probably the whole league, frankly -- has more talent and depth than the Celtics. Championships aren't won on paper, though, and it'll be up to head coach Joe Mazzulla and his staff to figure out the best rotations that maximize the production of these players.
Still, there's no question Boston's roster is absolutely loaded. Sure, it might be a bit light on frontcourt depth after Porzingis and Horford, but on the wing and in the backcourt, no one can match the Celtics' depth and talent level.
It's why expectations are sky-high for the C's entering the 2023-24 season, which starts next Wednesday when they play the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.