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How Nikola Mirotic Move Impacts Eastern Conference Playoff Race




   How Nikola Mirotic Move Impacts Eastern Conference Playoff Race



July 8, 2019

Nikola Mirotic has been one of the biggest success stories when it comes to international players coming to the NBA in the modern era. But Mirotic shocked the world when he announced that he was going to be leaving the NBA to play basketball in Europe going forward. And not only was that move shocking, but it could also have massive implications on the balance of power in the Eastern Conference as teams look poised to move up and down as a result.

Mirotic chose to join Barcelona as a free agent, moving to the Spanish basketball club instead of remaining in the United States. The move makes plenty of sense for Mirotic, whose style of play has always been compatible with the way that teams play in Europe. But for all of the good that the move did for Mirotic and Barcelona, it sent shockwaves through a couple of franchises who could have used his services.


Perhaps the biggest impact for a team with the Mirotic decision is on the Indiana Pacers. The Pacers were set to offer Mirotic a massive contract which, combined with a returning Victor Oladipo, could have made them a contender in the Eastern Conference. With Kawhi Leonard leaving the conference and the Boston Celtics losing Kyrie Irving, Indiana missed out on a big opportunity to become one of the top teams in the NBA's weaker conference.

Also losing out on the Mirotic decision was the Milwaukee Bucks, who had Mirotic last season and could have brought him back for the upcoming year. Mirotic was a huge piece for a Bucks team that finished at the top of the Eastern Conference last year. And with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the roster, there's no reason to believe that the Bucks won't contend for a conference title again this season. But losing Mirotic is a huge blow to their depth, which will be a factor as the upcoming season wears on.

Even without Mirotic, the Bucks will likely be considered one of the favorites to win the Eastern Conference. NBA picks regularly tabbed Milwaukee as the class of the conference last year, and have even more reason to do so this year. Aside from the rapidly ascending Brooklyn Nets and their acquisitions of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, there isn't another team in the conference that looks like a legitimate threat to the Bucks.



And while the Bucks look like they will be heading toward the Eastern Conference Finals for a second straight year, Nikola Mirotic will help Barcelona become one of the most dangerous teams in European basketball. The Catalan squad is often a contender in Spanish basketball, but fell just short in their domestic final against rivals Real Madrid.

Barcelona have also struggled in Euroleague play in recent years. With an NBA veteran in their corner, they should be better equipped to tangle with some of the elites of the Euroleague such as the Turkish sides and CSKA Moscow. Both domestically and internationally, expect a more potent Barcelona side in the near future.






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