The Milwaukee Bucks will play in what could be the final game at the Bradley Center tonight as the series heads back into the Central time zone. The Boston Celtics pulled out a gritty win Tuesday night to take a 3-2 series lead and move just one win away from facing the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
The #BucksInSix prophecy will have to wait at least one more series to be fulfilled, but the Bucks are heading into Game Six with a more optimistic feeling than they came into Game Three with. Despite questionable rotations and minute distributions, the Bucks made run after run in the second half, but the Celtics answered each and everyone Milwaukee run with a run of their own. With the home team undefeated in this series and with the sure-to-be-raucous Bradley Center crowd to be ratcheted up to another gear, the forecast looks good for Milwaukee to have a bounce back game and shake off their cold shooting from Tuesday night.
Player to Watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis was an easy player to identify for singling out. He is the best player on the court and his team faces elimination. He has the insane competitive drive to do everything he can to make sure his team does come out on top. The question is whether he will fully bring it tonight. Giannis will need to impose his will on this game, whether it’s going to the rim every chance he gets to draw fouls, kick out to the wing as the defense collapses on his drives to the rim, or to just shoot some dang open three-pointers, all eyes are on the All-Star.
Boston inserted rookie, Semi Ojeleye, into the starting lineup even though it was the first start of his career. The lineup change and the adjustments made in Game Five were enough to frustrate the Bucks’ offense. Once again the Celtics out rebounded the Bucks (50-37) and that margin was buoyed by the small ball lineup. Game Five showed that Boston has capitalized on the tactical advantage they have over Milwaukee and now we get to nervously sit back (or on the edge of our seats) and see how Milwaukee’s coaching staff responds.
Player to Watch: Marcus Smart
The former Oklahoma State great returned to the Boston rotation on Tuesday and had an immediate impact that many felt turned the tide in Boston’s favor. Smart pestered and made life difficult for the Bucks’ wings and helped Khris Middleton regress to his mean. As much as the Bucks need Giannis to flash his MVP-like game, having Middleton contribute at an above average level tonight is just as important to securing a Game Six victory and forcing a seventh and decisive game.
What the “Analytics Guys” Are Saying
The fine folks at Bovada Sportsbook have the Bucks as two possession favorites tonight and have the over/under set at 200 even.
Here is what the nerds over at fivethirtyeight have to say about tonight’s game after crunching the numbers. They are a little less bullish on the Bucks chances tonight, but still favor them to get the win.