The Celtics showed a charisma like no other in the way they finished off the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round of the NBA playoffs.
With Terry Rozier’s contributions leading the way in the fourth quarter, the team came to play in the Game 7 at TD Garden Saturday night as he rose to the occasion, along with Al Horford. Horford was a factor in scoring, rebounding and with his assists, as he showed once again he will do whatever it takes to help the team succeed.
The Celtics were clearly the better team that series. Although both teams put up a fight, with skills and the coaching of Brad Stevens, Boston got the end result of advancing to the next round to compete against the red-hot Philadelphia 76ers.
The only negative of the thrilling Game 7 was the hamstring injury Jaylen Brown suffered in the second quarter. He was a possibility for Game 1 against the 76ers right up until about 45 minutes before game time, but ultimately scratched.
Stevens said at Wednesday’s practice that Brown is “doubtful” to play in Game 2 Thursday night, but that he had yet to be ruled out and that the injury is “not a long-term thing” and “shouldn’t linger” as long as Brown comes back at the right time.
Brown was unbelievable in the first round prior to the injury and was a key in matchups defensively. He will be under pressure defensively in this series as well upon his return with Stevens saying on Wednesday that the hamstring has to be healthy enough to chase 76ers sharpshooters Marco Belinelli and JJ Redick around the court.
Semi Ojeleye established a spot defensively as well in the Bucks series, and was very solid when he was called upon off the bench to guard Ben Simmons, just as he did with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the opening round. He only scored 15 points in seven games in the first round, however, and will need to be an offensive threat as well.
Ojeleye was able to knock down a key 3-pointer in the second half in scoring five points in the Game 1 opener Monday night.
Pressure will be on the frontcourt against the bigger Sixers. Jayson Tatum responded to that pressure without Brown in Game 1 as he scored 28 points and dominated when Redick tried to defend him. He also got a turn on Simmons as he won the initial battle of the top Rookie of the Year candidates.
Greg Monroe should be back in the lineup more often – though he did not play in Game 1 – with Aron Baynes and Horford combining to take on the challenge of guarding budding Sixers star Joel Embiid.
Celtics have a tough ride against this Philly team as they are undermanned and the consensus underdogs. But, as Rozier warned at Wednesday’s practice, don’t count this team out yet.
About the Podcast:
Celtics Stuff Live was the original live interactive webcast produced specifically for Celtics fans. The show originally aired for two hours every Sunday night and featured regular and prominent guests such as Mike Gorman, Sean Grande, Steve Bulpett, Marc Spears, Peter Vecsey, Mark Murphy, Scott Souza, Kelly Dwyer and Gary Tanguay and broadcast on CelticsBlog.com.
Justin Poulin was one of the first members of the internet media to be credentialed with access to the locker room. After effectively retiring in early 2012, Celtics Stuff Live returns with Jon Duke and Justin Poulin featuring the interviews and expert analysis that listeners came to expect from the show in the Danny Ainge era.
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