That’s a wrap. The Milwaukee Bucks returned home with one win left to go in the second round series with the Boston Celtics and took care of business, 116-91. From tip to the final buzzer, the Bucks’ chances of winning were never in question. They clearly were the more prepared and energetic team and it showed in the final result.
The entire roster for Milwaukee, with one exception, played at or above expectations and it showed in the box score. Of course, our fearless foreign leader Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 20/8/8 on just fourteen shots. Not only was he a force on offense, but his size on defense clearly altered the Celtics plans which resulted in a ton of outside shots.
A grand total of seven Bucks scored in double figures, including Middleton, Bledsoe, Mirotic, Brogdon, Hill, and Ilyasova. That was the most balanced scoring of the series which resulted in one of the best performances for Milwaukee. Not one guy was taking every shot or hiding in the corner. When a whole team is clicking, it makes a difference.
Even Malcolm Brogdon had a great game in his first minutes since returning from an injury. He finished with 10 points on 4-8 shooting in 17 minutes and added after the game that he felt 100 percent. That’s a huge addition for an already talented Bucks team going forward. He was the fifth starter for most of the regular season and was a great compliment guard to Eric Bledsoe.
The one guy for Milwaukee that didn’t play well, and really hasn’t all series, was Brook Lopez. He had by far his worst game of the postseason, finishing with no points on seven shots, no rebounds, and one assist in 18 minutes. To be a starting center, seven feet tall, and play a team shooting under 32%, Lopez’s stats are almost impossible. While his absence wasn’t an issue in the Boston series, there’s no question his shooting skills will be needed for a deeper run in the playoffs.
One good take away from Lopez’s game was the fact that he played only 18 minutes. Every other starter played at least 28 minutes, so this further proves that Coach Bud is making adjustments game by game and even minute by minute. It shows growth from him as a coach as he hadn’t made similar changes in past postseason runs.
This win wasn’t all because the Bucks played well. They did. However, some credit needs to be given to the Boston Celtics. Man, weren’t they just terrible. Here are some major team stats in this game for Boston. 31.2% from the field. 17.9% from deep. 19 team assists. These numbers won’t cut it against a consistent team like Milwaukee, much less in a win-or-go-home situation.
Celtics’ star Kyrie Irving is the most interesting case study of the series. He played another inefficient game, scoring 15 on 6-21 shooting. After all the talk that he and his teammates would flip the switch in the playoffs and that he will do what he’s done in the past, Kyrie came out and flat out flopped in four straight games. Now, Boston is in turmoil. Rumors of Kyrie Irving have started and with that comes the mention of his young teammates. Chemistry is at an all-time low for the Celtics and it’ll be a tough offseason to recover.
Now that Boston has been sent home, we can look ahead. The opponent in the Eastern Conference Finals remains undecided. The series between Philadelphia and Toronto is currently 3-2 in favor of Toronto with game six being played Thursday night. If Toronto takes the series in six, game one of the ECF will be Monday. If the series gets pushed to seven games, the ECF will start Wednesday.
Either way, the Milwaukee Bucks are the first team of the 2018-2019 playoffs to advance to the conference finals and they did so in dominating fashion. All momentum is on their side and it’s up to them and the city of Milwaukee to keep it going in the coming days off. For now, we can just celebrate. We deserve it.