A seven-game series reveals all. The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks have emptied their respective bags fully, and now one game will decide their fate.
The winner gets the Philadelphia 76ers in Round 2. The loser heads into an offseason of questions.
Ahead of Saturday night’s Game 7, Brian Robb of Boston Sports Journal joined Adam Kaufman for an episode of Celtics Beat on the CLNS Media Network.
Robb details the scary proposition Boston is currently in, with a one-game, winner-take-all scenario in which the Bucks may have the best two players on the floor.
“When you have that variable going into one game when you have two guys that can go off and take a game over, that’s worrisome,” Robb said, speaking of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton. “The Bucks have more talent on the floor so that is a scary proposition in a one-game situation.”
Robb did give all due respect to Jaylen Brown, who has had quite a series himself. However, at this point, Brad Stevens and Boston seem to have emptied their bag of tricks.
Kaufman and Robb spoke of the recent job rookie Semi Ojeleye has done on Antetokounmpo, but it is all give and take. With Boston’s lack of healthy talent, every pro has a con. That forces Stevens to strike a delicate balance. Robb thinks Ojeleye has the best blend of strength and speed, but his offense is a black hole.
“The Celtics have done a very admirable job on [Antetokounmpo] all series long with a variety of different defenders in Horford, Ojeleye, and Baynes. I thought in Game 6 they went away from Ojeleye down the stretch a bit and that’s when Giannis got going it seemed like,” Robb told Celtics Beat. “You have to pick your poison if you’re Brad Stevens in the sense if you go Ojeleye and you play him for the really big minutes … then you’re dealing with a guy that’s shooting under 30 percent from the field. So that puts more pressure on the Celtics offense in a Game 7.”
Perhaps the biggest thing Boston fans can cling to in Game 7 is that Robb thinks the Celtics are due to play a complete game. He detailed to Kaufman that the team won Games 1 and 2 with offense, and Game 5 with stout defense. However, the Celtics have yet to play a good two-way game for 48 minutes.
Robb questions whether they are capable, given all the injuries and all the individual flaws and blemishes the current rotation has.
“They put things together for a few minutes, then it goes away very quickly and it devolves into that iso-game you talked about. Morris has been someone who has not played well in this series. And he has the highest usage of anyone in the rotation this series” said Boston Sports Journal’s Celtics reporter. “The worrisome thing, I guess, is when you’re having those guys step up it becomes a little bit tougher when you’re also playing Ojeleye and Smart for big minutes.
“It’s what you expected once they went defensive-minded here. With Ojeleye in you’re obviously not going to play [Aron] Baynes and [Greg] Monroe off the bench, even though Monroe got his shot [in Game 6] briefly when the offense was struggling. The Bucks went down and got easy baskets on the other side of the floor.”
The center position is just another in a long line of questions Brad Stevens will face in his second ever Game 7 test tonight. There are no more easy answers, and everything is out in the open.