I’d prefer not to write this. I’d prefer to pretend that didn’t just happen. The Bucks couldn’t handle the Celtics for more than five minutes and got shot out of their home arena, losing 112-90. Nothing went right for Milwaukee. This could be the longest article I’ve ever made, but I’ll keep it to a minimum since this is a best of seven series and it was just one game.
From the tip, it was all Boston. Kyrie shot out of his mind. Horford dominated every last Bucks’ player to challenge him. Brad Stevens out-coached Mike Budenholzer to the highest degree. Giannis looked like he never gained that 50 pounds of muscle. This game just simply didn’t look like the same two teams that played in the regular season.
The first half saw as big as a fifteen point lead for the Celtics. That prompted a 15-0 run from the Bucks to tie it up and eventually get to half only down by two. This momentum plus a couple of good offensive possessions to start the second half gave fans hope that they were back to themselves and could roll through the rest of the game.
It just wasn’t the case. Almost immediately, Milwaukee forgot how to play offense. They shot more mid-range shots than I’ve ever seen, were passing it to imaginary players, weren’t ready to catch passes and shoot, and couldn’t get Giannis in the paint. There really was nothing pretty about this game to talk about.
The Celtics shot 54% from the field to the Bucks 35%. Milwaukee will not win a single game for the rest of their existence if this happens every game. Luckily, it is just one game. Boston can and should come down a bit and the Bucks usually shoot incredibly better than this. The variable that determines whether it happens or not is if the Bucks can understand that it’s not entirely Boston’s scheme that trampled them. They dug themselves the grave by choosing to have a terrible and unusual shot selection paired with even minutes usage.
The minutes is what really hurts as a Bucks fan. Brad Stevens played all of his starts plus Gordon Hayward 30+ minutes. The entire list of Milwaukee players who payed more than 30 minutes: Giannis and Khris. In fact, only one other Celtic played at least 20 minutes. The Bucks had NINE players on the court for 20+ minutes. As a result, the Celtics starts plus Hayward had more time to get a rhythm and dominate while Coach Bud opted to use his depth to a high degree.
The problem with this strategy is that George Hill and Pat Connaughton ended up with more combined minutes than the starting guards Eric Bledsoe and Sterling Brown. In the playoffs, you need to only play your best. There is absolutely no conceivable reason to play George and Pat more than the starters. Bledsoe just signed a $70 million deal. Sterling has been the outright best replacement in Brogdon’s absence. Hill and Connaughton have their place in a game, but playing 24 minutes a piece ain’t it.
The blame definitely cannot be put all on Coach Bud. Bledsoe, Brown, and Brook Lopez combined to shoot 3-17 from the field and 2-11 from deep. That kind of production from half of your starters will inevitably lose a series, especially when the opponent’s defense is focusing on Giannis. Giannis had a tough game, don’t get me wrong, but the fact that Khris and Mirotic were the only players hitting shots will never be enough variety.
Again, its a best of seven. This is just one. A lot has to change to even this series in game two. There needs to be a new plan to get Giannis past Horford. Open shooters need to be ready to shoot. Playing iso ball isn’t going to get the job done, playing in transition like the rest of the season will. Bottom line, the Bucks need to shoot and rebound like the league’s number one team.
Game two will be played Tuesday night, and until then I suggest staying away from the internet. It’s going to be rough out there for Milwaukee.