Length is going to be a major factor in the playoffs for the Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics ended up with the best path to the Finals in the East, but that does not mean it is going to be easy at any point. They know they are capable of beating the Milwaukee Bucks, and can be confident in their ability to find an advantage.
One of the most interesting parts of this Celtics Bucks matchup, and an area where both teams will need to get an advantage, is with their length. These two have embraced versatility and position less basketball as much as anyone in the league, and length is a key at every single position.
When you look at the rosters, the Bucks certainly have more length. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a physical specimen we have never seen before, along with Khris Middleton, Jabari Parker, Thon Maker and even Tony Snell, who are all above 6’8 with wingspans that make them look longer.
There really is not a team in the NBA that can put that kind of length on the court, and it is a part of how they want to win. The difference for the Celtics, however, who do not have as much length, is that they can be more effective with their length.
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Brad Stevens knows how to use that length as an advantage on both ends, and bring together the kind of lineups that they can dominate with. While neither of these teams have much traditional size, the Celtics are a strong rebounding team, while the Bucks are terrible.
The Bucsa are dead last in rebounding, while the Celtics rank 7th, averaging around five more rebounds per game. Rebounding is always one of the biggest questions when it comes to versatility, because the traditional bigs are the ones that dominate on the boards, and spend more time in the paint.
Rebounding is a great example of how Stevens is so much better at using the length on the Celtics, because they have Al Horford, who is constantly criticized for his lack of rebounding, leading the way on a top rebounding team in the league.
Length all over the court, with supreme athletes like Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum is how the Celtics can dominate the boards, without as much traditional size, and that is not something the Bucks have figured out how to do with their length yet.
One area the Bucks are extremely effective as using their length in is generating steals. The Bucks are incredibly active, and make it difficult for teams to find the passing lanes. Surprisingly, the Celtics have a much more effective defense, but are not even close with regards to steals.
The Celtics depend on ball movement as much as anyone on offense, and even if the Bucks do not have a strong defense, they have the length to disrupt what will probably be a very streaky shooting team.
The Celtics, on the other hand, need to close the gap when it comes to steals. Both of these teams need all the easy baskets they can get, and will be deadly in transition. The Celtics have proven they can play defense without the steals, but getting those easy points in transition will be much more important, especially if the Bucks continue to have success generating their steals.
The same can be said for blocks, which further confuses how the Celtics are so much better on defense. The Celtics do not get the blocks or steals they want from their length, but they are able to contest in a way that the Bucks cannot.
The Bucks certainly have ways they are able to use their length, but it has not helped them on the boards, and all the blocks and steals look nice until you see their overall defense is middle of the pack.
Stevens has proven throughout this entire season, that he might be the best coach in the NBA at using length to make up for any potential size problems. They can dominate on defense while having three point shooters at every position because of that length, and that alone is much more impressive than anything the Bucks do.
Keep in mind, the Celtics have all this length and avoid all the size problems, while being the second best three point shooting team in the league. The Bucks may show off their length more, but their defense is still not right, and they have not found enough shooters to even crack the top 20 in three point percentage.