We could be talking about this matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics as a potential closeout opportunity for the defending champions. We could have approached this game with a 3-1 series lead, and the attitude that even a loss would bring the series back home for a chance to clinch a return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Where We’re At
The Bucks’ defense finally broke after bending for three games and three quarters, as the zone drop conceded open looks to Marcus Smart and Al Horford that they…hit. Over and over and over again. But as frustrating as that is, Milwaukee’s fourth quarter collapse was not just the product of untimely accuracy from their opponent (though that surely didn’t help).
Many fans want the Bucks to JUST COVER AL HORFORD, but their 4th quarter problems were deeper than that.— Eric Nehm (@eric_nehm) May 10, 2022
"Getting downhill, I take responsibility for that. Too many straight-line drives." - Wesley Matthews on Jayson Tatum
On the collapse, at @TheAthletic:https://t.co/QE4iWZIWuz
The story of Game 4 is the fact that Boston has options to work with while the Bucks…don’t. Khris Middleton was previously ruled out of Milwaukee’s two home games and there’s no indication that he’ll be available anytime in this series, and his absence has resulted in cascading failures across Milwaukee’s systems, both on offense and defense.
On the other side, the thrilling (for them) comeback has the Boston faithful already thinking about adding a banner to their extensive collection. And you know what, I don’t begrudge them that daydream; there’s still plenty of series left, but Monday’s game was the sort of resilient performance that correlates to “championship mettle,” the same mettle the Bucks displayed last postseason and showed flashes of over the course of this year. From CelticsBlog:
It’s a best-of-three series now. And two of those three are in Boston. That home cushion is nice, and it was earned by playing out the regular season, but the Celtics really need to get Game 5.
Expect TD Garden to be loud and out for blood. The Boston fans have a special attachment to this particular team and they’re going to want to give them a lift. And with games being played every other day now, the Celtics can use that energy from the home fans.
It would be incredibly Bucks-y of the Bucks to go out and convincingly win Game 5, only to drop Game 6 at home and set the stage for an anxiety-ridden Game 7 this weekend. If that’s how it goes…well, remember you read it here first.
As for the #Bucks, George Hill is back on the injury report as probable to play with abdominal soreness.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) May 10, 2022
Besides Khris Middleton, the Bucks are mostly healthy…save for George Hill, who had just returned from an absence and is listed again on the injury report with abdominal soreness. More on him in a bit. Meanwhile, Boston held Robert Williams out of Game 4 with lingering knee soreness after undergoing meniscus surgery at the end of the regular season, and his status for tonight is up in the air.
Robert Williams is questionable to play in Game 5 due to left knee soreness, per the Celtics.— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) May 10, 2022
Sam Hauser remains out.
Boston is of course favored as the home team, so while the odds are against the Bucks it’s also a position they’ve been in before. I ran a poll on Twitter shortly after Game 4 concluded, and if Bucks Twitter is to be favored over the oddmakers, then the bets ought to be placed on Milwaukee.
With Milwaukee and Boston now tied at 2-2, which outcome do you think is most likely?— Mitchell Maurer (@Mitchell_NBA) May 10, 2022
Player To Watch
Much and more has been made of the opportunity that Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis could (should?) have in this contest, to capitalize on the comparative lack of functional size for Boston. Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly can’t do it all alone (though we know he’ll still try), so it would be excellent timing for the “other” Bucks bigs to step up.
Carter's only gotten three minutes in the Bucks' last two games; once George Hill was ready, Bud turned to him without any hesitation. Given how much Boston has hunted Grayson Allen, though, and how hard Tatum went after Hill last night, it might be a good idea to dust Jevon off. https://t.co/PAve2CR6HA— Dan Devine (@YourManDevine) May 10, 2022
But no, tonight’s sights are squarely on George Hill, who was quickly ushered into his normal spot in the rotation once the medical staff gave Mike Budenholzer the green light. Coach Bud has always had a soft spot for “his guys,” and George Hill is absolutely on that list. It’s not like he hasn’t earned that trust…but does he still deserve it? Hill was not the reason for the Game 4 Milwaukee Meltdown, but a growing contingent of Bucks fans are calling for Jevon Carter to take his minutes instead…and given the way Carter has played while Hill recovered from his various ailments, it’s difficult to fault them for hounding Bud to play the Bulldog more. Will he? Should he? Who knows?
Game 5: Against Boston, the Bucks will...
This poll is closed
Win big (by 10 or more points)
Win close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose close (by 9 or fewer points)
Lose big (by 10 or more points)