Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
Monday, April 22, 2019 at 10:00 PM (Fiserv Forum)
The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics meet in the second round of the 2019 NBA Eastern Conference playoffs. Here is a series breakdown position by position.
Point Guard - Eric Bledsoe has been one of the more underrated players to the Bucks success this season, as his strong build allows him to be a beast defensively, and he’s strong to finish through contact on offense. Kyrie Irving has become one of the best postseason performers of this generation and has been taking with high confidence that nobody can beat the Celtics in a seven game series. There’s not many players I want over Kyrie in a playoff series, as I know he’s going to show up.
Shooting Guard - A combination of Sterling Brown, Pat Connaughton and Tony Snell has benefitted the Bucks to get where they are, but Jaylen Brown has quietly become one of the better two-way players in the league and makes the Celtics that much scarier when he’s being aggressive offensively. Obviously this is a much closer battle if the Bucks were healthy and Malcolm Brogdon allowed guys to move back to their more natural positions. Still, Brown is the best shooting guard in this series and is x-factor to Boston winning.
Small Forward - Jayson Tatum is more talented than Khris Middleton and will have the better career, but experience could give the slight edge to the Bucks in this series. However, we saw Tatum as a rookie be the best player last year on a team that was five minutes away from making the finals. Tatum shot 50.9 percent from the field in a sweep over the Indiana Pacers. Middleton is underrated and played well against the Pistons, but Tatum is a bigger difference maker and is just getting his feet wet.
Power Forward - Aron Baynes and Marcus Morris are both reliable players and bring the toughness to the Celtics, but them combined still doesn’t make up for Giannis Antetokounmpo at the other end. Antetokounmpo is this years MVP, and he’s become an unstoppable force offensively due to him taking the LeBron approach and just bullying his way in the paint. Antetokounmpo has put his name in the conversation for the best player in the world, and he’s not even 25 years old yet.
Center - Brook Lopez has taken his game to another level where he’s gone from serviceable big to difference maker who stretches the floor with quality three-point shooting. While he’s 31 years old, Lopez should be in the conversation for most improved player in the league. Al Horford is the model of consistency, as he rarely does things that make you turn your head, but he plays good defense and puts up double doubles on a nightly basis. This is going to be an interesting matchup and I don’t see a clear edge either way, so I’ll take the easy way out and call it a draw.
Bench - The Bucks had the season they had because of their depth, and that includes a bench of George Hill, D.J. Wilson, Ersan Ilyasova and Tim Frazier. However, the Bucks aren’t 100 percent with the injuries to Brogdon, Donte DiVincenzo, Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic still working his way back from a thumb injury. The Celtics bench takes a series hit with the loss of Marcus Smart, but Terry Rozier was key in the Celtics playoffs success last season, Gordon Hayward is a legit all-star when he’s himself and Morris is a glue guy who can knockdown the open three. Both benches are probably a little shorter than you’d like due to injuries, but both very talented and productive. I give the edge to the Celtics, however, due to higher quality players and guys who can play for long stretches.
Series Prediction: Celtics in 6. The Bucks have home court and are probably going to be favored to win this series based on what they did throughout the regular season. I’m still siding with the Celtics to advance. On paper, the Celtics are the better, deeper basketball team and it’s just a matter of them playing like it. No more subpar effort, distractions and playing like you don't care. If the Celtics play the way they’re capable of playing, they’ll win this series. We saw some of that against the Pacers, a series that many thought would be competitive. On the other side, this is a prove it series for the Bucks. If the Bucks get by this series, I’ll eat my words and give this squad the credit they deserve. I'm still on the fence with the Bucks and sweeping the Detroit Pistons doesn't do much to move the needle.