NBA Playoffs – History of Eastern Conference Semifinals Teams

2020 NBA Playoffs will continue with Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat and Boston Celtics vs Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals round.

A look at the history of both matchups and the four coaches.

Eastern Conference Coaches

These four teams are coached by four of the best coaches in the NBA (in order of seeding) – Mike Budenholzer, Nick Nurse, Brad Stevens, Erik Spoelstra.

Combined, these four have made the playoffs in 21 of 26 seasons, won 3 championships in 5 Finals appearances, 9 Eastern Conference Finals appearances. 3 Coach of the Year awards, and 2 Final Fours.

Beyond being great coaches, these four have one common bond – Lebron James

  • Budenholzer – his Hawks lost 2015 ECF to Lebron and Cavs
  • Nurse – was an assistant coach on Raptors when they lost to Lebron and Cavs three straight postseasons between 2016-2018.
  • Stevens – lost to Lebron and Cavs in the ECF in 2017 and 2018
  • Spoelstra – coached Lebron from 2011-2014, going 2-2 in 4 NBA Finals appearances

Records vs opponents

  • Budenholzer – 4-3 vs Heat (only includes the last two seasons with Bucks)
  • Spoelstra – 27-15 vs Bucks (includes 4-0 in playoffs)
  • Stevens – 12-16 vs Raptors
  • Nurse – 3-5 vs Celtics

Celtics vs Raptors

These two teams have never met in the postseason. All-time, the Celtics are 57-40 against the Raptors, including winning 3 of 4 during the 2019-20 season.

Marcus Smart buzzer beater 2015

In looking for a notable moment between these two teams, I found this one…

In April 2015, Smart hit a game-winner in Toronto to help the Celtics win their 10th out of 11 games. Boston, after missing the playoffs in 2014, would make it in 2015 as a 7 seed for the first time in Brad Stevens’ tenure.

History between these franchises is very limited.

Bucks vs Heat

Heat are 74-45 all-time vs Bucks.

These teams have met once before in the playoffs – Heat swept Bucks 4-0 in the first round in 2013.

The Bucks starting five for this series was Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Luc Mbah a Moute, Ersan ─░lyasova, and Larry Sanders. Any time Monta Ellis leads your team in scoring (14.3 ppg) you probably don’t have much of a chance to win. Ellis was an excellent scorer, but a better complimentary player than go-to option.

Heat were led by Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Ray Allen. Lebron averaged 24.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 6.8 apg and the Heat ultimately won their second straight (franchise’s third) championship.

One player remains on each team – Udonis Haslem in Miami and Ersan Ilyasova in Milwaukee. The difference is, Haslem is a Heat lifer. Ilyasova played for Detroit, Orlando, OKC, Philly, Atlanta, Philly again, before returning back to the Bucks.


The 2013-14 Phoenix Suns were the most successful version of the Suns in the last 10 years. How is that relevant to Heat vs Bucks?

Suns top two scorers were current Heat PG Goran Dragic (20.3 ppg, 5.9 apg) and current Bucks PG Eric Bledsoe (17.7 ppg, 5.5 apg).

In February 2015, Dragic was traded to the Heat and in November 2017, Bledsoe was traded from Phoenix to the Bucks.

To go full circle, Suns had 3 point guards on that roster. In addition to Dragic and Bledsoe, they also had Isaiah Thomas, who was traded in February 2015 to the Celtics. Thomas was the team’s fourth leading scorer at the time of the trade (15.2 ppg).

Mike is a member of the FWAA (Football Writers Association of America) and an alum of the University of Cincinnati.

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