Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks: Lineups, preview & prediction 4/17/18
After a closely contested Game 1 defeat, the Bucks will look to avoid going down a 2-0 as they battle the Celtics in Boston.
The Boston Celtics withstood the Milwaukee Bucks’ best shot as they just about escaped with a Game 1 win, 113-107 in overtime. It was a balanced offensive effort for the C’s as five players had 19 or more points. Al Horford led the way with a remarkable all-around performance of 24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and two steals. Terry Rozier came up big in the clutch with 23 points, while young wings Jayson Tatum (19 points, ten rebounds) and Jaylen Brown (20 points, four rebounds) also excelled.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee got another huge performance from superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo. The Greek Freak went for 35 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Khris Middleton was also spectacular with 31 points, eight boards, six assists, and five 3-pointers, including the big buzzer-beater to send the game to overtime. Eric Bledsoe struggled with just nine points and had five turnovers, but Malcolm Brogdon had 16 big points off the bench.
Three keys to the game
Eric Bledsoe bounce-back game – The Bucks should take it as a good sign they nearly stole Game 1 on the road despite only two-thirds of their “Big 3” playing well. Bledsoe had a rare off-night as he was just unable to get much of anything going offensively. He should be a good candidate to bounce right back, though, and the Bucks will be that much more dangerous with their star point guard playing the way he’s usually capable of.
Celtics offense – On the flip-side, the Celtics played pretty close to full capacity in Game 1. While they didn’t shoot particularly well, their young players, Rozier and Tatum in particular, played better than expected in their first playoff starts. Horford also had one of his best offensive nights of the year despite doing so much defensively. The question now is whether they can come up with a similarly strong effort offensively for the second game in a row. If not, they could be in some trouble keeping the Bucks at bay.
Jabari Parker – After putting up close to 20 points and eight rebounds per game in April, Parker was surprisingly a non-factor in Game 1. He finished with just two points in 15 minutes off the Bucks bench as head coach Joe Prunty opted to go big with John Henson for most the game. Aside from Bledsoe, the Bucks can reach yet another gear if Parker can give them improved production. However, he must prove he can play reliable minutes against a well-drilled Celtics team that can expose his defensive deficiencies.
Matchup to watch
Giannis Antetokounmpo vs Al Horford – Horford did a masterful job of pacing the Celtics offense while playing stellar defense on Antetokounmpo. While the Greek Freak can obviously put up 35-point, 13-rebound outings all series long, Horford’s ability to keep pace on both ends of the court is a bit more dubious. But if he can somehow recreate his amazing production, the Celtics chances of going up 2-0 go up significantly.
Bucks projected starting lineup
PG – Eric Bledsoe | SG – Tony Snell | SF – Khris Middleton | PF – Giannis Antetokounmpo | C – John Henson
Celtics projected starting lineup
PG – Terry Rozier | SG – Jaylen Brown | SF – Jayson Tatum | PF – Al Horford | C – Aron Baynes
For the Bucks, Antetokounmpo can and probably will come up with yet another huge night. Middleton’s chances of matching his terrific Game 1 performance aren’t as great, though, especially with Bledsoe likely to be better.
As for the Celtics, Horford seems unlikely to put together another stat sheet-stuffing performance. At the least, he likely won’t score well over 20 points again. Tatum and Rozier will continue to get their shots to put up big numbers though. Brown also seems like a relatively safe bet fantasy-wise. The young swingman averaged 21 points in April and has now scored 20 or more points in his last two meetings against Milwaukee.
The Celtics performed well in Game 1 as they showed the resiliency they’ve been playing with virtually the entire season. But the Bucks, even with all their flaws, showed just how tough they could be. The Greek Freak will keep on coming, while Bledsoe is bound to have a better game. That’s why it makes sense to take the Bucks at +2.5 in Game 2.
The Bucks successfully close out the Celtics this time around as they pick up the all-important Game 2 win, 105-99.
This game will be broadcast on TNT. Tip-off is at 8:00 pm Eastern.