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Bucks vs. Celtics Game Four Preview: Reinforcements Appear Imminent for Boston

Marcus Smart is on the verge of returning...

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Ah, how sweet it was to hear the uproar of Kyrie Irving after game three regarding the preponderance of foul calls against the Boston Celtics. Just one teensy issue with that though...*whispers* the Celtics only had four less free throws than the Milwaukee Bucks. For all the sturm und drang over the fouls, and game three was pretty foul-ridden on both sides, the Celtics seem to be missing the fact their defensive wall is shattering. Tough look for the flat-earther here.

Bucks Update

Game three featured a tight game through the half, with the Bucks making a late push to give Boston just a one point lead through two quarters. Then, as was the case just a few days earlier, Giannis Antetokounmpo happened. He imposed his will on Boston in the third quarter, flummoxing them on his drives to the point they had no choice but to foul him for fear of certain death by demonstrative dunking display. George Hill went aggro too, nailing triples and driving past Boston defenders for a hang on the rim dunk. His improved play since Brogdon’s injury has made a massive difference down the stretch and into the postseason. Even with Boston shooting quite well for their standards and getting to the free throw line 32 times, nearly twice their typical rate, they still lost. That should be cause for concern.

On the injury front, the typical guys remain out, while Malcolm Brogdon, who has seemed on the verge of returning for several days now, has been ruled out for game four.

Player to Watch: Eric Bledsoe

So you’re saying my piece last week didn’t help Bledsoe unleash his best self? Game three was quite the opposite in fact, as Bledsoe forced the issue offensively while settling for 3-point jumpers he just didn’t need to take. Personally, I appreciated the aggressiveness versus the passive shadow he was in game one, but whatever’s haunting him in Boston needs to get Luigi’s Mansion’d real quick man. I thought he made a few more under control passes in the second half, and forced his way in with a clutch drive to the rim to put the Celtics away for good late in the fourth. He just needs to play within himself.

Celtics Update

*Brad Stevens digs deep into his bag of tricks and pulls out...Semi Ojeleye*

Well, I guess that one didn’t work out? Semi looked petrified, or maybe just oblivious, either way, he had plenty of problems trying to guard Giannis in the halfcourt. Racking up five fouls in just 11 minutes is Thon-style stuff. Kudos to him for getting that pregame assignment and making a go of it though. Stevens marginalized Aron Baynes to the point he played just two minutes in this one. I get they had success in game one with the smaller starting lineup, but look for Stevens to potentially go back and supersize with Baynes and Al Horford more. Maybe they won’t start, but they had huge success with that lineup in the first round. Milwaukee is a vastly different beast than Indiana, but there’s something to be said for trying what led you to success earlier. Plus, Baynes could basically do the Marcus Morris role and hide on Lopez. At this point, I’m not sure what else Boston could do. Their defense started tearing apart at the seams as the third quarter proceeded. They need a shot in the arm, and perhaps the return of Marcus Smart, who is listed as questionable on the injury report, will provide it.

Player to Watch: Gordon Hayward

After ripping past Pat Connaughton time and again in game one, the former Butler Bulldog has struggled from the field ever since. In game three, he went just 2-8, and while he also had seven rebounds and five assists, he doesn’t look confident as a shotmaker out there. Particularly driving to the tin. I mean, when Ersan blocks you at the rim, it’s time to cry for help. Boston’s bench needs him to get back on track if they have any chance of evening up this series.


Game 4: Against the Celtics, the Bucks will...

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    Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
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