Bucks-C’s: Jaylen Brown Arrives; BOS Lead Series 2-0

Jayson Tatum wore some pretty nifty Laker gold color sneakers and that was his lone highlight of his night against Milwaukee, as the Celtics cruised to a 106-120 pummeling of the favored Bucks. The C’s now hold a 2 games to none lead over Milwaukee, each team will be off until Friday when the series will resume in Wisconsin at the Bradley Center.

Outside of Tatum’s low scoring of four-points on two-of-nine shooting, the Celtics played basically the perfect game. Jaylen Brown officially has his coming out party, knocking down jumper after jumper, finishing with thirty. Milwaukee made the mistake of going under every time the Celtics ran a dribble handoff (DHO) for Brown, willing to dare the second-year forward to shoot, he did and with great success. Bucks coach Joe Prunty did not adjust, and despite Brown developing himself as a fine deep threat, adhered to a seemingly outdated version of his scouting report.

Milwaukee went deep into their bench, unlike in Game 1, and found mixed results. Malcolm Brogdon again proved to be more ready for the playoffs than veteran guard Eric Bledsoe, notching 10-points in eighteen-minutes; Shabazz Muhammad come off the bench and was right hot out the gate, scoring 11-points in just twelve-minutes. But neither saw for the floor for very long. Sterling Brown didn’t log a single-minute until the fourth quarter when the Celtics already were way ahead. Tyler Zeller played only five-minutes and prospect Jabari Parker humiliated himself in the brief stint he had out there, giving zero effort on defense in a sequence after a missed shot, the C’s got back in transition, his assignment (Jaylen) was left open in the left corner for what seemed like forever, got a couple dribbles in before he drilled a three-pointer to stifle a Milwaukee rally. Parker finished with a miserable negative-15 and proved his critics correct that he isn’t ready for prime time.

Prunty continues to gift the Celtics by playing the wrong guys, not giving defensive, high-energy scorer Matthew Dellavedova more time, even with Tony Snell (again) scoring only two-points in twenty-two minutes. Quite ironic, given in Milwaukee’s season-opener against the Celtics, Delly was a key cog in the Bucks defensive identity, scoring fifteen-points and iced the contest with a 25-foot three. It’s baffling to see him out of the rotation.

To add insult to injury, Khris Middleton continued to shoot the lights out, picking up right where left off after a thirty-one point Game 1, scoring twenty-five points, but only receiving 14 attempts, converting on 11. Once again, Middleton and Giannis were the lone pulses of a dying Bucks team, combing for fifty-five points, while most of Milwaukee’s supporting cast floundered. But shooting was not the issue for Milwaukee, despite being down by as much as twenty, they managed to shoot 59.7% from the field. It’s the little matter of Milwaukee going seven-of-seventeen from the charity stripe and committing fifteen turnovers that played a big role in what could be a demoralizing defeat.

On the Celtics side of things, business was good. Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris continued to flourish. T-Ro scored 23, while Mook chipped in 18 off the bench, including two very important jump shots late in the final period when it looked like the Bucks were about to mount a last ditch effort run. Morris is clearly unfazed by the chaos around him, able to rise to the occasion when called on. It’s no wonder why he’s become such a critical part of Weird Celtics Twitter.

So, in the most unlikeliest of events, the shorthanded Celtics took it to the Bucks and now are in complete control of this series not many (including me) expected to win. Course, this is far from over. But the way the Celtics are moving the ball, getting every shot they’ve ever wanted, and how Milwaukee looks ready to be put out of their misery, you can’t help but get ideas of just how far this scrappy band of backups can go.

GAME NOTES:
Al Horford continued to dominate in the post, and midrange, scoring 16 points off of 7-Of-11 shooting, putting in five rebounds and four assists. Greg Monroe and Shane Larkin helped a ton off the bench, scoring twenty-three points between them both, Monroe putting in four-rebounds, two assists and two steals.

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.