Ranking each Eastern Conference playoff team based on their best player

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks
Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
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5. Milwaukee Bucks

Best player: Damian Lillard

Another team whose ranking is impacted by the absence of their true best player. With Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo expected to miss the beginning portion of the playoffs due to a calf injury, Damian Lillard is the next best guy for Milwaukee.

Lillard has had an up-and-down first season with the Bucks. It was the first time since his third season in the league that he played 65 or more games and averaged less than 25 PPG. He also shot his lowest percentage from three (35 percent) in 65 or more games played since his third season as well. 

In game one against the Pacers though, Lillard stepped up when it mattered most. He scored 35 points in the first half and led the Bucks to a 15 point win. This is nothing new for Lillard, as he has shown that he can rise to the occasion when the lights are brightest. However, he also has some moments where he comes up small, which is why he is not higher on this list.

Lillard’s signature playoff moments, like his game-winners against Houston in 2012 and OKC in 2019, have overshadowed some of his playoff stinkers. For his playoff career, Lillard shoots only 41 percent from the field and has had multiple playoff runs, shooting 40 percent or worse (four times). 

In elimination games, Lillard does average 25 PPG and about eight assists, but shoots only 42 percent from the field and 27 percent from three-point range. Now, these games have come with Lillard as the first option in Portland. 

He has not played with a player as good as Giannis Antetokounmpo and if Lillard keeps playing like he did against Indiana in game one, he will have the chance to. He just has to continue to elevate his game and not fall into his bad playoff history.