A Series Of Statistical Oddities

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.

Giannis Will Soar Over The Battered Celtics

Boston’s 102-108 defeat on April 3rd, at the hands of Milwaukee was eyeopening. The Bucks took on a battered, shorthanded Celtics squad and couldn’t put them away, despite being in control for the entirety of the second half. Horford, Monroe, Brown, Tatum and Baynes were money from all over the court, combining for 80-points, what lost them the contest was Kadeem Allen and Semi Ojeleye scoring four-points apiece. At the time I believed if Terry Rozier was ready to go, the Celtics would’ve won the game going away. Rozier didn’t play because of an ankle, he came back the next night for Toronto and went 1-for-9 and outside of the Atlanta game, hasn’t looked right. As a starter, Rozier’s been wonderful, averaging almost 17 points a game as a starter.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can carry the offense, they’re going to be the main source for points. If Giannis holds either of them to below twenty-points, Milwaukee will win this running away. It’s almost the wrong time for substitute coach Joe Prunty to play Giannis at center given how lethal he can be guarding Boston’s two forwards. As shooters, Tatum and Brown are awesome. If you are asking either of them to make a critical pass, find the open man, they cannot do that. Passing isn’t their strong suit and we seen Stevens experiment with playing playing Tatum at point guard, to little success. Rozier is a playmaker, but not a point guard in the traditional sense. The straw that’ll stir the drink is Al Horford, he’s done it before and knows how to do it. In the four-games against Milwaukee, Big Al posts 18 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists and an astronomical 139 offensive rating. If Boston miraculously wins this season it’s because Al Horford is awesome.
Sneaky fringe All-Star Khris Middleton averaged 20 points this season on 46/35/88 splits, a modest statistical achievement, including 51.7% on twos. Despite that, Giannis and Middleton are only marginally better as a frontcourt tandem than Brown and Tatum.
Giannis/Middleton: 110.7 ORtg, 5.2 Net, 58.5 TS%
Brown/Tatum: 108.5 ORtg, 8.4 Net, 56.8 TS%
The problem is, Giannis is the best player out of those four. On the other hand, this Bucks team, while talented, has the dirtiest basement of any of this teams captained by a super-duper star. Through 71 games Eric Bledsoe’s been solid, but hardly the game-changer we all hoped he’d become for Milwaukee. Last year’s rookie guard Malcolm Brogdon’s offensive rating was higher (112) than Bledsoe’s (109) and despite his ability to play off-ball, hasn’t risen his game playing next to Giannis.
Milwaukee is a team consisting of solid spot-up shooters; 21.4% of their total points this season came from that playtype, which they run more than twenty-three other teams at 21.5 frequency rate. On “Cuts” the Bucks rank seventh worst in in the 17.2 percentile. But in isolation the Bucks are at an elite (or near-elite) 79.3 percentile. Middleton, Snell, Bledsoe are the silent killers of this deeply flawed Bucks team. And while they remain defensively challenged, Boston doesn’t have the tools to make them pay.
If Kyrie were healthy I’d take Boston over Milwaukee in a heartbeat – and it wouldn’t even be close. Prunty isn’t a good coach, falling into the same failures as predecessor Jason Kidd committed during his time there. But Giannis is a year older, wiser and Boston does not have a body on the floor that can defend him in any capacity.
My Prediction: Bucks in 5.