Bucks vs Celtics: Can Giannis Antetokounmpo unlock Boston’s mighty protection?

The Celtics’ sweep of the Brooklyn Nets within the first spherical of the playoffs underscored one factor about Boston’s late-season rise to the highest tier of the NBA’s Japanese Convention: it was no fluke.

Leaning on the defensive model cultivated underneath rookie coach Ime Udoka and punctuated by huge scoring video games by All-Star Jayson Tatum, Boston stymied a Brooklyn staff that seemed to be gaining late-season momentum led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.

The one staff to register a four-game sweep within the opening spherical, the Celtics are a conference-best 37-10 since their buzzer-beating loss to the Knicks on January 6. They enter their second-round matchup with the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks enjoying their finest basketball of the season.

Udoka stated their efficiency in opposition to a high-quality Nets staff that wasn’t a typical No 7 seed bodes nicely for them going ahead.

“We understood that is the playoffs and we’re gonna must play actually good groups,” he stated. “The one factor we discuss is we’re a basketball staff, not a monitor staff. We’re not operating from folks.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo is defended by Boston Celtics energy ahead Al Horford throughout the common season

That features embracing the problem of attempting to gradual reigning NBA Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. The groups have not met in a postseason sequence since 2019, which Milwaukee received 4-1 in what proved to be Irving’s ultimate video games in a Boston jersey.

They break up their 4 regular-season conferences this season, although they by no means met one another at full power or with the Celtics’ post-trade deadline beginning lineup of Robert Williams, Al Horford, Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Sensible on the ground. That group is 27-7 collectively this season however hasn’t confronted Antetokounmpo with the form of dependable outdoors shooters he now has round him.

“Everyone knows what Giannis is able to, what he is carried out, what he is doing and what he is gonna attempt to do,” Sensible stated. “For us it is gonna take one other staff effort. With these guys he makes it actually powerful due to how aggressive he’s and the way he can get within the lane and never solely create for himself however create for these different guys. These guys are sitting there prepared for him to serve it up on a platter.”

Bucks affected by Middleton, Hill accidents

The Bucks rolled to a 4-1 win over Chicago within the first spherical, however one participant the Celtics might not must take care of is Khris Middleton, who is about to overlook the sequence via harm. The three-time All-Star hasn’t performed since spraining the medial collateral ligament in his left knee 10 days in the past in Recreation 2 in opposition to the Bulls.

Since Tatum and Brown’s first season collectively in Boston in 2017-18, Middleton has averaged 22.Four factors and shot 52 per cent from the sector in two playoff sequence in opposition to the Celtics.

However coach Mike Budenholzer stated what he contributes on the defensive finish is simply as laborious to switch.

“I do assume he is underrated in what he does defensively, together with in huge stretches of video games, essential moments, guarding the very best wings,” Budenholzer stated. “He takes loads of satisfaction in being an excellent defender. Additionally a bit bit underrated, his measurement, he simply does loads of issues, will get hits, will get rebounds, can begin the break from a rebound. And he is sensible. He is an excellent communicator. I believe he helps guys on the market. He sees and feels issues at a excessive degree defensively. There’s numerous issues we miss on that finish of the courtroom.”

Budenholzer stated he stays hopeful that George Hill may return in some unspecified time in the future throughout the sequence, although the 35-year-old guard is not anticipated to be obtainable for Sunday’s opener. Hill missed the whole Chicago sequence with an stomach pressure.

No ache for Williams following Celtics return

Boston Celtics centerRobert Williams III dunks the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves
Boston Celtics heart Robert Williams III dunks the ball in opposition to the Minnesota Timberwolves

Udoka stated Williams did not expertise any ache in his surgically repaired left knee after returning to the courtroom for the ultimate two video games of the Brooklyn sequence.

The subsequent step is getting his conditioning again earlier than his minutes can return to regular.

“The wind I do not assume was fairly there these final two video games,” Udoka stated. “You’ll be able to scrimmage all you need, however there is not any approach to actually emulate that dwell recreation tempo and motion. So, to get his wind again up will likely be huge this week. Simply get some dwell work in the previous few days and simply get him constructed again up so he can get again to his regular rotation, lineups and minutes.”

The frenzy of dwell NBA Playoffs video games continues on Sky Sports activities this week – see the checklist of video games right here and subscribe to look at the dwell motion.

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