Boston Celtics to take on Milwaukee Bucks in 1st round of NBA Playoffs

The Boston Celtics are set to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

After a thrilling final night of the NBA’s regular season, the Boston Celtics are slotted to take on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the playoffs.

“We’ve had some good matchups with them this year,” Aron Baynes said of the impending matchup, after Boston’s win over Brooklyn. “It’s gonna take a lot from us, but it’s gonna be a fun one.”

The Bucks enter the postseason as the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed, after an embarrassing 130-95 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers. They’ll look to perform more admirably in their series with the Celtics.

Boston’s injury-ravaged roster may help them do so. The Celtics will start the postseason without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis. Finding consistent means of offense is likely to be particularly daunting given the team’s limited personnel.

Boston may be able to simply out scheme Milwaukee. The Bucks’ offensive and defensive systems aren’t particularly beautiful or complex. Milwaukee will, however, be able to lean on the series’ best player in Giannis Antetokounmpo.

The Greek Freak is an irrepressible, long-armed bundle of quick twitch muscles and a legitimate MVP candidate. Slowing him will be no small task.

“It’s gonna be a team job,” Baynes said of slowing Antetokounmpo. “It’s not one man’s job. Five men on a string. We gotta’ all be playing defense. You know he’s very talented. He’s a great player, so we’re gonna’ have to lock in and try to do a job collectively on him.”

The Celtics’ efforts to slow Antetokounmpo throughout the year have been limited. He’s averaged 33.5 points, 10.8 rebounds and 5.0 assists in the Bucks’ four tilts with Boston, all on 62.3% true shooting.

The Celtics have enough large, mobile bodies to keep Antetokounmpo uncomfortable and will undoubtedly slough off of the Bucks’ non-shooters to clog up his lanes to the hoop. They did so with occasional effectiveness in the regular season. It just didn’t always matter.

When Antetokounmpo is at his best, he’s nearly unstoppable. Boston would be right to fear him accordingly. Without Irving or Hayward available, they don’t have the same kind of transcendent talent available to counter him.

But they still have a lot of talent to work with and a master puppeteer to organize it in Brad Stevens. That might be enough. It might not. But the novelty of Stevens making something out of nothing is over.

His ability to MacGyver his way to victories is now up against the rigorous standard of the postseason – the ultimate proving ground. Stevens won’t shy away from the opportunity.

“It’s an absolute blast to get a chance to compete in the playoffs. And that’s what you work for. It’s what you work for as a staff. It’s what you work for as a team. And the players put in an incredible amount of energy throughout the entire season and had a great regular season. And now…they get to enjoy the opportunity to compete at the highest level.”

The NBA Playoffs are at hand. Rejoice.

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