Who’s the MVP of the series (Boston or Milwaukee)?
Hunter Perkins: Is it too early to pick Marcus Smart? Kidding, but his Game 5 impact was more than noticeable. As tempted as I am to pick Jaylen Brown, Al Horford has been everything the Celtics have needed him to be in the series. His all-around game and ability to guard anyone on defense has kept the Celtics afloat. Boston will not win Game 6 without Horford being a integral part of the victory. He is one of the best players for the Celtics, on and off the court. If the Bucks win the series, there is no doubt that this would go to Khris Middleton.
Devon Clements: My pick for MVP is Khris Middleton. Over the last three games the Celtics have been able to limit Antetokounmpo’s scoring, leaving it up to someone else on Milwaukee to be the number one scoring threat. Enter, Middleton. Over the course of the series Middleton has averaged 25 points-per-game, shot 58 percent from the field, and 59 percent from 3-point range, giving him the nod in my book for showing the most consistency from either team during the series.
Cory Prescott: Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo would be excellent choices, as both players have been excellent. Yet, given the already short-handed Celtics need for a consistent scoring threat – someone you can get the ball to when things appear dire – Jaylen Brown has more than stepped up. Against a fully healthy Bucks squad, the 21-year old Brown has averaged 21.8 points and 5.4 rebounds per game on close to 50% shooting from the floor and nearly 45% from 3-point. What’s more, the undermanned Celtics are up 3-2, and if the second-year forward out of Cal keeps scoring, he’ll make Celtics history.
What’s worked for the Celtics this series and what hasn’t?
Perkins: Taking it to the rim soft has not worked well at all. Too many times the Celtics find their shot in the third row of the bleachers. They need strong takes that either draw fouls or result in buckets. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier should all be able to beat their matchups to their spot. The Celtics need to play harder, but more importantly, smarter. If the Celtics can continue to lower their turnovers and out-hustle the Bucks, we’ll see Philly in a couple days.
Clements: Loading the paint up with bodies has worked well when the Celtics are trying to limit Antetokounmpo to the jumper. From there it just comes down to the remaining cast limiting guys like Middleton, Bledsoe, Parker, etc. which they have done, with the exception of Middleton, but he has not singlehandedly taken over games for the Bucks. Relying on sloppy play by the Bucks certainly isn’t working for Boston as you can see from games three and four. The defense has been there for the Celtics, they just need to find more consistent offense.
Prescott: The Celtics have found success when they hold onto the ball and don’t offer up their shots to be swatted like a beach ball. Although the Bucks ditched Jason Kidd’s hyper-active defensive scheme for a more conventional one, they’re still an overly aggressive team – too much at times. When the Celtics use Horford as a post threat, the Bucks seem to almost always send help, giving Horford an outlet to swing the ball and hope that the Celtics can generate easy penetration opportunities or open looks. Much to my chagrin, I think it’s safe to say Greg Monroe hasn’t worked out. In fact, the Celtics spacing and lack of quickness when they go big – outside of Game 2 – has failed to materialize.
Marcus Smart’s impact was felt before he even walked on the floor at TD Garden for Game 5 between the #Celtics and Bucks.
— Celtics on CLNS (@CelticsCLNS) April 25, 2018
The Celtics will win Game 6 if…
Perkins: They shoot well. If Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier can change those 4-10 shooting numbers to 6-10 or higher, the Celtics could cruise. They have yet to have a game this series where both the bench and the starters shoot well. They need to come out of the game hot, and I would look to put the ball in Jaylen Brown’s hands as much as possible. Another key will be stopping Khris Middleton and keeping the Bucks off the boards as much as possible. The final trick will be letting Marcus Smart be Marcus Smart. I love that guy.
Clements: The Celtics win Game 6 if one player on the Celtics scores 25+ points. No real rhyme or reason to it, but that seems to be the way it goes during this series. Seeing the way everyone has played for Boston, my bet is that Jaylen Brown will have a big night once again and help close this series out against Milwaukee.
Prescott: Keep the crowd out of it, work through Al Horford on offense and bump Marcus Smart’s minutes from the 25 minutes he played in Game 5 to 30 for Game 6. Perhaps most importantly, if the Celtics and Semi Ojeleye can keep Antetokounmpo in check (The Greek took just 10 shots in Game 5), then the Celtics can end this one in Milwaukee.