Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks: Can Giannis Antetokounmpo inspire the Bucks?
One matchup of the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs is all set, as the Boston Celtics will face off against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, with the first game happening in Beantown.
The Celtics weren't expected to handle the Brooklyn Nets with such ease, as they ended up sweeping them in four games.
The Bucks, meanwhile, took care of the Chicago Bulls as expected, but they did that in five games.
Let's take a look at each team's outlook heading into this series!
Can The Bucks overcome the loss of Khris Middleton?
The Bucks were dealt a huge blow when they got the news that they'll likely be without Khris Middleton throughout this entire series, as he's currently dealing with a sprained MCL in his left knee.
Middleton is the main shot creator on this team, as it's his ability to shoot the three and get to his spots in the mid-range that helps space things out for Giannis Antetokounmpo, who we all know can destroy teams inside with his lethal combination of power, size, and length.
To the Bucks' credit, they've been able to get significant contributions from the likes of Grayson Allen, Bobby Portis, and Pat Connaughton, in addition to what Jrue Holiday already gives them, as they were able to beat the Bulls by an average margin of 23.3 points in the three games without Middleton.
But that was them going up against the Bulls, who, outside of Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams, don't really have that many plus defenders to speak of.
Conversely, the Celtics have a plethora of plus defenders, so it's going to take a herculean effort by Antetokounmpo for the Bucks to have a chance in this series.
Can the Celtics limit Giannis Antetokounmpo?
The Celtics' defense drew a lot of praise for their ability to shut Kevin Durant down, as a combination of Jayson Tatum, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Grant Williams, and Jaylen Brown did everything they could to force Durant into taking low percentage shots in the mid-range rather than getting to the rim.
But now, the Celtics are going to have to adjust their defensive gameplan against Giannis, as he is not the type of player to settle for mid-range shots or 3-pointers at all. He is going to use his length, strength, and overall frame and challenge you on drives to the rim.
Nobody on the Celtics, aside from Robert Williams, really has the frame to challenge Giannis, but they do have the personnel to wall off the paint from him.
This series will come down to if Giannis can carry the Bucks like he did in the Finals last year and if the Celtics' depth can carry the momentum from the first round into this one.
Either way, expect this series to go six or seven games!