Bucks Lead

Let’s Not Underestimate the Boston Celtics

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Primarily due to the outcome of the Bucks’ final game of the season, I spent most of my Wednesday night refreshing and scrolling through Twitter. And I have to say, I’m a bit concerned about what I saw. I’m not talking about the reactions to the team’s 35-point loss at the hands of the scorching hot Philadelphia 76ers; I’m talking about folks actively cheering for Miami to beat Toronto after Washington lost to Orlando. And listen, I’m not an idiot, I know Boston is a much more winnable series than Philly would’ve been, and it’ll be fun as hell to watch. But there’s a few things I feel like I have to clear up regarding the Boston Celtics and the implications of Wednesday night’s events.

 

First, let’s talk about the pick. If you follow the team closely you know that finishing 6th in the East would’ve kept our pick protected from the Phoenix Suns. Finishing 7th, with a record tied with that of the Miami Heat, has us facing a coin flip that will determine whether the Bucks’ will have the 17th selection in the 2018 NBA Draft or hand the 16th pick over to Phoenix. I’m writing this on Thursday night and the coin flip will take place sometime Friday, so this might all be for not if we end up with 17. I will say though, that at this point in the team’s development I would rather get bounced in the first round and have a first round pick than vice-versa. Let’s be honest, this team isn’t winning a championship and the front office needs a chance to continue to add young talent. This is especially imperative considering this year’s draft is stacked with talent, particularly big-men, which we definitely need. I want to see the Bucks’ make a post-season run as much as anybody, but given the option I’d take the pick every time.

 

Now let’s talk about the Celtics. I’m hearing a lot of talk about this being an easy upset for the Bucks and yes it would be incredible if the Bucks actually won a series, in six games, on their home court, but I think we all need to take a deep breath and look at what we’re actually up against.

 

The last time these two teams played, the Bucks won at home 106-102. Boston played that game without starting point-guard Kyrie Irving, second string point-guard Terry Rozier, third string point-guard Shane Larkin, and utility guard Marcus Smart. The win was still impressive, but it’s tough to feel too great about beating a team who started two-way player, Kadeem Allen, at point guard. Obviously Irving is out for the season, which is great news for Milwaukee, but Rozier and Larkin are good to go and Marcus Smart could make it back for game 6 or 7, should they be played. Now, Terry Rozier isn’t Kyrie Irving, but he’s no slouch either as he’s made a huge jump in his 3rd season. He averages 11 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists, per game, and does a great job filling the gap in offensive productivity vacated by Kyrie.

 

The Celtics also have some of the best young talent in the league with Tatum and Brown. Jayson Tatum would be a strong rookie of the year candidate in a year that didn’t include Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell; and Jaylen Brown took a huge step forward from last year, really developing his offensive game to complement his freakish athleticism. These guys might be 20 and 21 years old respectively, but they definitely haven’t been playing like it and I expect them to handle the playoffs the same way.

 

Now let’s look at how they stack up against the Bucks’ biggest weakness, rebounding. The Celtics are 10th in the league in rebounds per game with Milwaukee holding down the 30th and final spot. Horford, Baynes, Morris, and our old friend Greg Monroe will be healthy and ready to go on Sunday and look for them to be chasing down offensive boards and locking down the glass on defensive. They might not have the scoring power the Bucks have, but a few second chance buckets can even that out real quick.

 

Finally, the real reason I’m terrified of the Boston Celtics, their coach, Brad Stevens. This guy is absolutely incredible. Last season he coached the team known as “the worst one-seed of all time”, that’s to say they were the least talented one-seed of all time. They proceeded to lose their first two games, at home, to the Chicago Bulls, then came back and won the series. They were then taken to seven games by the Wizards in the second round, and won the series. Only to fall to LeBron James as every Eastern Conference team has done for the last seven years. This season Brad came back to work with ten new players on his team. That is an insane amount of turnover for any team, much less a one-seed who made it to the conference finals the year before. Then they lose their marquee free-agent signing 5 minutes into the season and they still barely miss a beat as Stevens guided them to a 55-win season (that’s two more wins than they had last year as the one-seed). Brad Stevens is a ridiculously good coach and if you’re asking me he should be COY no question. After all he’s been through this series doesn’t exactly look like something Brad is going to be phased by and, with three days to game-plan, expect the C’s to come out strong in Game 1.

 

There you have it, every reason not to underestimate the Boston Celtics. And with all that being said…

 

Bucks in Six

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