This’ll be a series of statistical oddities and who’ll be the least sloppy team, at times Boston looked unable to avoiding shooting themselves in the foot. In the second-quarter, the Celtics committed five turnovers, four of them coming from backup guard Shane Larkin, aiding the Bucks to get off the ropes turning a twelve-point deficit to a three-point lead in the span of twelve-minutes. The thirty-to-fifteen run by Milwaukee can be attributed to the Bucks hounding the Celtics everywhere, denying ball entry to Jayson Tatum and stifling Celtic big Greg Monroe. Middleton and Giannis got hot and took control, Boston had no answer for either of them the entire day and were fortunate Milwaukee couldn’t get much of anything out of anybody else to help push them over the top, as the Celtics won Game 1, 113-107.
Bucks coach Joe Prunty mangled his team, again, he didn’t play Giannis at center, until he took John Henson out after thirty-seven Minutes, finally turning to the lineup for the entirety of overtime. But it wasn’t just that. It was not substituting Tyler Zeller in to go against Greg Monroe in the fourth quarter, a matchup Zeller feasted on in their April 3rd regular season matchup. Desperate for Al Horford, Stevens rode the 31-year-old hard all night, deciding to sub him in next to Monroe with 7:51 left in the regulation; the frontcourt is one of Boston’s worst, accumulating a negative net rating of 15.7. Yet, Prunty failed to make Boston pay in any capacity. Prunty didn’t turn to Zeller, didn’t go small, didn’t even give Jabari Parker a chance to take advantage of the traditional lineup in the forty-eight seconds the Celtics played Monroe with Horford.
Boston also enjoyed an overwhelming surplus of bullshit scoring courtesy of Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris. Since Irving was lost, Boston’s offensive rating is a below-average 103.3, worse than the New York Knicks, of all teams. It’s safe to assume, the Celtics are going to deal with games in this series where they’re going to get nothing from either Mook or T-Ro. Mook made a complete bullshit 22-foot step-back fadeaway two, at the very end of the shot clock (https://on.nba.com/2HEzM1y). When Mook makes that shot, it just isn’t your night.
Marcus Morris played exceptional defense, guarding Giannis for 28 possessions, holding him to eight-points, and holding Khris Middleton to three-points in the fourteen-possessions he spent guarding him. Terry Rozier did a tremendous job on veteran guard Eric Bledsoe, who couldn’t have bought a basket from him. Forty-three-possessions, 5 points, two turnovers, 2-of-7 shooting, Bledsoe was an absolute disaster for the Bucks, who benefiting from 2nd-year guard Malcolm Brogdon (16 points) playing in his place. Likewise, Tony Snell was an abomination, scoring a measly two-points in thirty-three minutes of play. Amateur, but promising shooting guard Sterling Brown logged only two seconds, Prunty did not trust his young guys at all and it cost him a chance steal home-court advantage from the Celtics.
Despite Henson’s impressive six blocks, the veteran center only snagged five rebounds on the defensive glass and helped Boston win the battle on the boards, Boston scoring 22 2nd chance points to Milwaukee’s 5.
Even with all of that, the Bucks still had a chance to win this game in overtime. After a beautiful Jayson Tatum finger roll (https://on.nba.com/2J1aE4i), the Celtics lead 108-105, 1:22 left t, Prunty called timeout. Middleton drove to the baseline, finding an open Brogdon, as Rozier left his man to help on defense, he missed and Giannis grabbed the running rebound, dishing it to a driving Bledsoe, who gave it to a WIDE (WIDE) open Middleton who (thankfully) missed as well. Rozier out hustled Giannis for the critical rebound, T-Ro iced the game with seven-points from then charity stripe and the Celtics galloped out of their home building buzzing with confidence.
Will the Bucks continue to shoot themselves in the foot? Can the Celtics continue to rely on Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier erratic scoring? How much will we see the Giannis at center lineup? The answer to the last question, may very well decide the series.