A first round playoff series featuring Bucks star, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Celtics 5’9″ assassin Isaiah Thomas would undoubtably make for must watch TV.
At 48-26, the Boston Celtics have surpassed expectations and now own the first seed in the Eastern Conference. Brad Stevens is an amazing coach, and he has Boston playing tremendous basketball.
In their only matchup this season, the Celtics escaped the BMO Harris Bradley Center with a win in overtime. Isaiah Thomas was a force, and he got whatever he wanted en route to a game high 37 points and 8 dimes.
Milwaukee’s point guard duo of Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova tried their best to slow him down, but no one has really done that successfully this season.
For the Bucks to make this a competitive series, they must limit the players around Thomas. In their only match up, Celtics forwards Jae Crowder (20 points) and Kelly Olynyk (17 points) killed the Bucks.
When Crowder and Olynyk combine for almost 40 points, it’s going to be very difficult to win a game against Boston.
Another problem for the Bucks is their lack of a shot creator. Boston has terrific perimeter defenders, and they will force the Bucks into tough shots. Milwaukee must rely on ball movement, which has been their bread and butter all year.
Getting into a half court battle with the Boston Celtics will definitely play into the C’s hands.
Avery Bradley versus Khris Middleton: Middleton’s ability to hit the 3 ball at a high clip, and put the ball on the floor will definitely be tested by Bradley who is an outstanding defender. Avery Bradley is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, and he will make Khris Middleton work hard for every basket. This is not the ideal matchup for the Bucks.
The battle of the benches: The Celtics don’t have the best bench, so the Bucks want to make sure they win the bench battle every game. The C’s don’t have a lot of firepower off the bench, but they have players who are more than capable of contributing. Milwaukee needs to run Boston off the three point line and make them drive to the basket. The Bucks bench has been up and down most of they year, but they have been clicking at the right time. Milwaukee is definitely trending upwards. The next 5 for the Bucks will be absolutely crucial in a series against Boston.
It’s a big man’s game: Boston forward Al Horford has largely been a disappointment this year, but he has definitely given the Bucks problems in the past. Horford’s ability to stretch the defense with his jumper could pose problems, as it will force Greg Monroe, Thon Maker and John Henson to defend outside of the paint. Ultimately, it comes down to cleanly securing the rebound. Boston is not a great rebounding team, so Milwaukee must exploit them on the glass and get into their offensive possessions early.
Prediction: These next 2 games against Boston should really tell us how these two teams match up. This would be a really tough test for the Milwaukee Bucks, but I ultimately see them losing in 5 games to the Boston Celtics.