We’re through the first round of the NBA playoffs, and eight teams remain. One is Milwaukee, which advanced to the second round after easily handling the Miami Heat in four games.
The dominant performance has boosted the Bucks championship odds on BetUS to +550, the third-best in the league.
The Bucks have had their share of postseason disappointment in recent seasons, but the first-round win has quelled some concerns, bringing optimism in its place. What would it take for the Milwaukee Bucks to win it all?
Keep up the Defensive Effort
On paper, the Bucks have room to grow on the defensive end, which may come as a surprise with two-time Defensive Player of the Year Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks ‘offense is one of the NBA’s best, second overall in points scored and shooting percentage. Their defense, however, is just league-average.
This is in part due to the fast pace they play at, but no team allows a more generous performance from three than Milwaukee.
For any hope at a championship, the Bucks need to continue the success they had against Miami, holding them to just 33.6% from deep, in their next series and beyond.
Milwaukee’s Path to The Finals
The third-seed Bucks took care of business against the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat, sweeping them.
Now the real test begins, with second-seeded Brooklyn Nets next in line. The winner of this series feels likely to represent the East in The Finals, so there isn’t a more menacing path than what Milwaukee has in front of them.
If the Bucks can get past Brooklyn and their trio of stars, they would draw either the Philadelphia 76ers or Atlanta Hawks in the Conference Finals.
Philly may not be at full strength, with MVP finalist Joel Embiid slightly tearing his meniscus in Round 1 and questionable to play again in the playoffs.
The Hawks meanwhile are a young team that, while competitive, don’t seem to have the firepower to match up with the Bucks should they meet.
The Nets are easily the Bucks’ biggest test in these playoffs. Milwaukee won the regular-season series, 2-1, though the Nets did not have their team at full strength as they do now.
Odds to Win Championship
BetUS has odds for every remaining team in the NBA playoffs. As mentioned, the Bucks odds come in at +550, second in the East behind Brooklyn and third among all remaining teams.
The Western Conference is loaded, while the East is top-heavy, which partially explains why Milwaukee’s odds are better than some strong teams like the Suns, Clippers, Nuggets, and Mavericks.
These odds mostly become a bet on whether the Bucks can take down the Nets. On paper, they should be able to keep it competitive. These are the top two offenses in the NBA, and Milwaukee has the edge on the defensive end.
The Bucks had a steady offensive attack in Round 1, with five players averaging 15 points or more.
More consistency on that end will go a long way towards Milwaukee’s championship odds. The Bucks can win it all, and their biggest test is likely coming up in Round 2, starting Saturday night.