This will be the second of the interesting Eastern Conference second-round series to get going and it’ll be a battle between this Bucks team that was the best team in the league in terms of record all season and a Celtics team that had a lot of drama surrounding them most of the season but was able to turn things around to be more consistent at the end of the season.
Both teams are also coming off of sweeps in the first-round and will be without key guards at least to start the series. Marcus Smart is probably not going to come back in this series and Bucks guard Malcolm Brogdon has been ruled out for at least the first two games of the series with a heel injury after sitting out the first-round win against the Pistons.
This series will present a very interesting matchup. The Celtics are one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league and Milwaukee is 22nd in the league in three-point percentage defense.
To go against that though, is that Milwaukee is a much better rebounding ream than the Celtics are, especially when it comes to the way the Bucks control the defensive glass and the lack of the Celtics getting to the offensive glass. This should lead to the Celtics not having too many second chance opportunities.
While both of these teams are good defensive teams, the Bucks raking first in defensive rating and the Celtics ranking 7th, I’m expecting both teams to be able to score in this series because they are also both good on the offensive side of things and rank in the top-seven in assists. They are both teams who defenses can’t really focus too much on one guy, even though they both have big-time go-to scorers in Kyrie Irving and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
While the Bucks are the better team, the Celtics do provide some very interesting issues to the Bucks. Milwaukee can be turnover prone at times compared to the Celtics and as I mentioned, the Celtics have been one of the top three-point shooting teams in the league while the Bucks rank 22nd in three-point defense.
With the way that Milwaukee defends the paint with Giannis and Brook Lopez it would benefit the Celtics to shoot more threes than they did over the course of the season as they only ranked 22nd in three-point attempts in basketball. The way this matchup shapes up I would fully expect the Celtics to shoot more threes, which will make it important to watch how well that Kyrie Irving and the other Boston guards are able to penetrate off the dribble.
It will also be critical to see how well each team can deal with the other team having a big who can really step out to the three-point line and shoot the ball. Brook Lopez for the Bucks shot 36.5% from three this season and Al Horford shot 36% from three this season.
How well each team can defend the stretch forward from the other team will go a long way in determining which offense can run more efficiently because the stretch forward aspect of the offense makes such a big difference for both teams.
Also watch for adjustments throughout the series. Brad Stevens has done a great job in the postseason as the head coach of the Celtics and this is the first go around for Mike Budenholzer as the Bucks coach and he is the best coach the Bucks have had during the postseason in this stretch with Giannis and he should be able to make adjustments to keep up with Stevens.
This is going to be a highly-entertaining series that I could see going either way and it’ll be really interesting to see if the Bucks can break through with this crew and make it to a conference finals.
Game one: Sunday in Milwaukee
Game two: Tuesday in Milwaukee
Game three: Friday in Boston
Game four: May 6th in Boston
Game five*: May 8th in Milwaukee
Game six*: May 10th in Boston
Game seven*: May 13th in Milwaukee
(*) = if necessary
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