Regular Season Series
In the 2017-2018 season, the series between the Bucks and the Celtics have gone 2-1 in the Celtics’ favor. Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks 35 points per game in the matchup while Kyrie Irving has poured in 24.3 points per game. Giannis again leads the Bucks in the series with 10.7 rebounds per game and Al Horford ripped down 8 boards per game for Boston. Horford also leads the Celtics with 5.3 assists per game with Giannis leading the way with 4.6 assists for the Bucks. The two teams will face off again on Tuesday, April 3rd in Milwaukee at 7:00 PM.
Key Matchup: Joe Prunty vs. Brad Stevens
No Kyrie, no Hayward, no problem for Brad Stevens. Stevens has weathered the storm through losing his star forward in the first game of the season and Kyrie Irving missing nine of the last twelve games by pulling off the second-best record in the Eastern Conference (52-23) and a five-game winning streak in Irving’s absence. Brad Stevens has been nothing short of great for the Boston Celtics throughout his tenure and interim Bucks head coach, Joe Prunty will have to find a way to outstrategize him, should this matchup happen. The Bucks have continued to see the same high-volume scoring under Prunty and has improved the team’s opponent points against by 8 points holding teams to 100 points per game versus Jason Kidd’s 108 points per game. Though a seven-game series against a Brad Stevens-led Boston Celtics would make for a daunting task for Coach Prunty, a series win could be the start of a legacy for him and cement him in as Milwaukee’s coach of the future.
X-Factor Bucks: Malcolm Brogdon’s Health
The Bucks have managed without him, but the addition of an even-keeled playmaker like Brogdon is exactly what the Bucks need. The versatility, court vision, and basketball IQ of Brogdon are attributes to behold when he is fully healthy. He has an ability to slash through defenders into the paint finish an acrobatic layup, put a defender on a poster with a slam, or dish it to a trailing big or open shooter on the perimeter for an assist. Brogdon’s ability to lock down opposing guards has been a major missing piece for the Bucks as well. With his 6’5″ frame, Brogdon has the physicality to outmuscle his opponents as well as the athleticism to keep ball handlers out of the lane. Brogdon has also shown his nose for the ball on the defensive end as he averages a steal in every game which will elevate the Bucks’ already impressive 8.8 steals per game (2nd in the league). All in all, Brogdon has been the missing piece for a while and his “X-Factor” status should not come as a surprise.
X-Factor Celtics: Kyrie Irving’s Knee
Will Kyrie return for the playoffs? The star point guard had a knee surgery to clean out a tension wire inside of it and the return date has ranged from three weeks to six weeks with a massive amount of uncertainty regarding the accuracy of either. Playing without Irving would be doable for the Celtics, but losing a steal, five assists, and 24 points from every game is a major blow. If Kyrie’s knee can hold up, the Celtics are in good shape.
Prediction: Milwaukee in Seven
(Assuming Kyrie Irving will not be available for the series)
Sorry to all you #BucksInSix cult followers out there, but take some joy in the idea of your Milwaukee Bucks surviving and advancing. It would be a shame for the Bucks to play the Celtics without while they are not full-strength, but that is how the game goes at times. If this series does indeed happen, hopefully, Kyrie is back. Beating a team who is down a key player never has the same feel and leaves room for doubt. Out of the top Easter Conference matchups the bucks could have, the Celtics provide the Bucks with the best chance to pull off something they have not done since the Ray Allen, Sam Cassell, Glen “Big Dog” Robinson, “Light It Up, Light It Up!” days. Say it with me Bucks fans, “Bucks in…seven.”
P.S. If you have never seen the “Light It Up, Light It Up!” Bucks intro video, you’re welcome: