Being a prisoner of the moment is the default state as a fan. See: Literally every opening segment I’ve ever written for this “column” since I started it like three years ago. We win, I’m convinced we’re never losing again. We lose, I want everyone not named Giannis to take public transit back to the hotel/airport/their homes. That’s what we’re here for.
Take a step back from Milwaukee 2-1 series against the Boston Celtics, though, and I think we can all generally agree that things are starting to find their own equilibrium. In game one, the Bucks brought the full brunt of a truly debilitating defense to bear against a Celtics team that just got done dispatching the NBA equivalent of traffic cones in the Brooklyn Nets. Then, in game two, Boston opted to dare Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday to beat them while bombing away from three, and a blowout ensued. Game three represents a sort of middle ground between those results with Boston tending to allow Al Horford to man guard Giannis most of the time, Milwaukee pushing Jayson Tatum around, and things eventually coming down to whose second-tier players could give enough to lift the squad.
If that holds true, the arithmetic for both teams is where things count now. Giannis played about as well as we could reasonably expect barring another 50 piece performance — taking his or Jrue Holiday’s USG% much higher isn’t particularly feasible, so the offense is about tapped out unless someone else consistently makes baskets. Our defense has had two great outings and one landslide under its belt which is pretty much inline with how the math is supposed to work. Given that, it feels as though Boston might have slightly more flexibility from a tactics standpoint (especially if reffing goes their way more decisively) which should worry most of us even if we can ride it out. We’ve the best player in the series, but that guy is also one of one when it comes to getting frozen out by the officials.
Games four through seven are either going to be rockfights or us getting blown out. That’s fine, but it’ll make for some stressful viewing. But that’s usually how these close series go, right?
To Be The Best, Jayson Tatum Is Having To Beat The Best (FiveThirtyEight)
*insert Celtics fan comment about The Best being a euphemism for NBA referees here*
Jokes aside, there are some interesting numbers in here, even if the piece was published between games one and two. Tatum getting the anointment as the Next Big Thing after the Celtics first-round sweep of the Brooklyn Nets rested as much on his defense against Kevin Durant as it did on his offensive output. Now, against a guy like Giannis and a defense like the Bucks, he’s having a much harder time leveling up his game yet again. Wes Matthews has thrown two perfect games defending Tatum and it shows, and each time Tatum gets switched into defending Giannis, it almost always looks like it’ll end in disaster for him.
Boston got plenty out of their roster in game two that it didn’t matter, and Jaylen Brown/Al Horford gave them enough in game three to nearly steal home court advantage back. Are we due for the Tatum breakout game? Or is he not on that level just yet?
The Celtics and Bucks Are Playing 3-and-D Chess (The Ringer)
Math meets brawn meets not having Khris Middleton meets whatever this series has turned into so far. Both teams have a pretty clear idea of how things are going to go on a strategic level, so like most tight series it will turn into a grudge match of tactics against tactics. It’ll come down to whether Boston can find enough folds to generate clean looks versus just how far Giannis can carry Milwaukee’s offense in turn. Fun.
A fun piece worth your time — indeed, probably the highlight of this group of links this morning. While Giannis continues to impact things on a game to game basis, like all transcendent players in league history his wake is forcing roster adjustments around the NBA. Indeed, Antetokounmpo has been such a success that guys in his mold (young, athletic, tall with room to bulk up without becoming cumbersome) are something of a hot draft topic now. Whether any of them will match his very particular recipe for success is a big open question. Did anyone successfully find their own Michael Jordan or LeBron James while those guys were playing?
Correct heading into game three, and probably also correct heading into game four besides some rotation adjustments. Honestly, the result of game three feels to be so much more in line with where these teams are, which means without Khris Middleton to help break the deadlock, they’re just about even. Keep throwing punches because they’re going to keep landing until one of these teams falls over.
Would tend to agree with all these. Also, win four games in each series between now and whenever you lift another trophy.
This one came in at the buzzer as it was looking bleak Sunday morning when I first checked. Even better, I think it is a really good piece as well given the wider discussion about refereeing! So iokouvo94, come collect your hardware for, “Game 3 and playoff defense”. These lines in the final paragraph were a perfect encapsulation of where we’re at:
“The refs allowing players like Williams, Horford or Wes to get away with a lot of contact was expected, allowing Giannis to drive on defenders and allowing them to get away with a lot was expected. The thing that wasn’t expected were the ticky tacky fouls that kept sending Boston to the line from off ball situations.”
Know Your Enemy
You know who it is: Boston Celtics - Celtics Blog
- Ime Udoka on whistle against Giannis Antetokounmpo: “I’m going to have to teach my guys to flop more”
That’s a hell of a quote, even if presented out of context.
- A missed opportunity: 10 Takeaways from Celtics-Bucks Game 3
- Ime Udoka has prime chance to show his chops in Game 3 against Bucks
As usual, we encourage you to go check it out because it does pay to get the temperature of an opponent and their fanbase. As usual, we also don’t recommend throwing elbows in their comments section unless it is constructive. But ultimately that’s up to you.
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Milwaukee South in 2050*
Yes, that’s a picture of Chicago, not Milwaukee. pic.twitter.com/EjYnDOYQ1K— Daniel Bice (@DanielBice) May 4, 2022
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We’re about to see the pace of this series take it up about ten notches after that four day gap between games two and three. From here on, it’s every other night between these teams, which means advancement or elimination, this thing will be wrapped up by the next MMMR! Frightening.
Game four is tonight in Milwaukee, game five back in Boston on Wednesday, game six (if necessary) on Friday in Milwaukee, and game seven (if necessary) on Sunday in Boston. Hard to believe we’ve only gotten through three of these things, but we truly haven’t even hit the midway point yet. Buckle up, and remember to enjoy the moment!