Are the Bucks and Nets Afraid of the Cavs?
Yesterday's NBA Trade deadline was super busy. Star players like Ben Simmons and James Harden have been on the move, while other role players like Joe Ingles, Derrick White, and Thaddeus Young have been integral parts of many different packages across the league. However, I’m most interested in the deals made by the Bucks and Nets.
It would be crazy to say that Milwaukee or Brooklyn were thinking of the Cavs when they made these moves, but were they? Both of these teams rely on small-ball lineups that can outgun any team they face, so why would they add slower and bigger pieces at the deadline? My only thought is that these top teams are concerned with the Cavs.
Both groups have seen what a deadly Cavalanche can bring on them, so GM’s Sean Marks of the Nets and Jon Horst of the Bucks made some changes. The Bucks acquired Serge Ibaka of the Clippers and now have a much more formidable interior presence on defense. If Brook Lopez ever comes back from injury, the Bucks can now match the Cavs "Tower City" lineup with a very versatile Holiday, Middleton, Antetokunmpo, Ibaka, and Lopez lineup. They wouldn’t have the switch-ability that Cleveland holds, but they wont get dominated in the paint like their previous matchup.
The Nets also got really big. By shipping Harden to the 76ers, Brooklyn was able to acquire Ben Simmons, Andre Drummond, and Seth Curry. The Nets now boast 6 key rotational players that stand at 6’9”, and most of them can be versatile on both ends of the court. Seth Curry will also provided much needed guard depth if Irving sits out due to outlying circumstances.
I’m not sure if this trade really changed how I view Milwaukee, but it made the Nets a whole lot scarier. A full lineup of Irving, Mills (or Curry), Durant, Simmons, and Claxton are a matchup nightmare for Cleveland. We already know the Cavs may struggle to go shot-for-shot with Kyrie and Durant, but now the Nets have a much more stout defense.
Many fans believe that Simmons is broken goods, but this feels like a perfect situation for him. He doesn’t need to be the leader of this team, and can really let the offense come to him. However, if he’s still dealing with the “yips” or whatever was bothering him in the playoffs, this might just blow up in Brooklyn’s face.
Maybe the Nets and Bucks made these moves because they wanted to improve their rosters. But maybe, just maybe, they’re a little afraid of the new kids on the block.
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