The Milwaukee Bucks visit the TD Garden in Boston to take on the Celtics on Sunday afternoon. This matchup will feature a Boston team depleted by injuries colliding with a Milwaukee team that looks decent on paper. Boston is favored in this game, at -4.
The Makeshift Celtic Lineup
While the Celtics managed to have a successful season after losing their stars, there are some question marks in their lineup. Everybody who knows the game knows that Jayson Tatum is one of the best rookies in basketball this season. However, the lack of depth brought on by injuries definitely makes the playoff future of this squad uncertain. This team is relying on a starting lineup that includes Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, and Aron Baynes.
While the Celtics have had their scoring distributed fairly evenly (8 players averaged over 10 points per game), this lineup is certainly not what coach Brad Stevens would have expected to put on the floor to begin the playoffs. Although the obvious injury woes for Boston are the losses of Gordon Heyward to start the season and the loss of Kyrie Irving, the absence of elite defender Marcus Smart will prove to be a huge blow.
Could Milwaukee Surprise?
Let’s take a look at the Milwaukee starting lineup:
First, starting point man Eric Bledsoe is coming off of a triple-double performance against the Magic just 6 days prior to this meeting. Seeing as how this is his fourth career triple-double, one could see how this would be a confidence booster.
At the 2 guard, Tony Snell is a sharpshooter who also brings some length to this position. Snell will likely be tasked with guarding Jaylen Brown.
The forwards for Milwaukee are Khris Middleton and the aforementioned Greek Freak. You can expect much of the scoring to come from these two positions. Look for Bledsoe to feed the ball to these two. If they can establish themselves as the main scorers in this game, they should be able to open up the perimeter. If Snell and Bledsoe can knock down the outside shots, Milwaukee should be able to shock the Celtics on their home floor. Center John Henson rounds out the lineup, averaging only 1.5 points per game on the season.
My prediction: The Greek Freak is going to be too much to handle for a team who will be attempting to get a feel for its best lineup defensively. Without Marcus Smart in the backcourt, Boston will be depleted defensively as it is. Antetokounpo, I believe, will go for 25 points or more, punishing rookie Jayson Tatum.
The X factor in this game will be Milwaukee’s ability to knock down the outside shot, after Boston has to double team Antetokounpo. If they are shooting well, look for Milwaukee to down the depleted Celtics in Boston.
Bucks Top Celtics in Game 1
If there was a time in these playoffs to pick a 7 seed to defeat a 2 seed, it is in this series. The Bucks have a young, athletic team, with a point guard coming off a huge performance. Look for the Bucks to run the floor, wear out the injury-plagued Celtic roster, and win this game. My Pick: Milwaukee (+4).
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