The 2019-20 NBA season will officially restart tonight, and the Milwaukee Bucks are the prohibitive favorite in the Eastern Conference.
Milwaukee had the league's best record (53-12) when the season was shut down in March. In Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have the reigning MVP and potential back-to-back winner of the award. Alongside him is a strong supporting cast led by Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez.
The defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics are right behind the Bucks in the standings. However, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith thinks the Miami Heat, currently seeded fourth, are a bigger threat to Milwaukee's Eastern supremacy.
— First Take (@FirstTake) July 30, 2020
" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> First Take earlier today, Smith said he doesn't anticipate anybody taking down the Milwaukee Bucks in the East, but said if someone is going to beat them, it will most likely be the Heat.
"I just look at Miami's perimeter shooting," Smith said. "A guy like Duncan Robinson pulling up from the parking lot, shooting nearly 45 percent from three. A Tyler Herro shooting about 40 percent. The Goran Dragics of the world, the Kendrick Nunns of the world, at 36-37 percent from three-point range.
"Their ability to close things out with a Bam Adebayo, considering his energy on the defensive end, along with the collection of bodies that they've got to throw at the Greek Freak. And they have the athleticism and quickness to get out there and defend Milwaukee's perimeter shooting."
The Heat actually are 2-0 against the Milwaukee Bucks this season, and the two teams will face off once again on August 6.
As for the NBA's first official night back, it gets underway at 6:30 p.m. ET tonight when the Utah Jazz take on the New Orleans Pelicans in Orlando. The Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers will follow at 9 p.m. ET.
Both games will be broadcast on TNT.