All things considered, much of the basketball storyline in Boston the past few days has centered on Celtics fans feeling pretty good that their squad drew the Milwaukee Bucks in Round 1.
The general consensus is, the suddenly healthy Washington Wizards would have been a potential disaster, and Erik Spoelstra’s Miami Heat could have schemed the hobbled C’s right out of the playoffs.
However, how should the Bucks be feeling on the flip-side of things. Milwaukee, in dropping to the No. 7 seed, gets to play those injury-plagued Celtics, who are without Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Matt Velazquez used words like excited and said that this is the matchup fans wanted, while he was a guest on Celtics Beat with Adam Kaufman.
“I asked Khris Middleton after the (last game of the season) if you could pick where you’d want to go do you have a preference,” Velazquez said. “And he was like, ‘well everyone knows what’s going on with Boston. A team that’s dealing with injuries is probably a better bet than other places.’
Velazquez also said after the last game of the season at least one Bucks player in the locker room was openly rooting for Miami to pull out a win over the Raptors (a Heat win moved them to the six seed and pushed Milwaukee down to seven.)
Another reason for that enthusiasm is that unlike the Celtics, the Bucks are fully healthy. Jabari Parker is back, and they even signed some extra legs from China in the form of veteran Brandon Jennings.
“One difference is the Bucks are healthy now, something [Jason] Kidd couldn’t really control. Jabari Parker is back. They have different players and different combinations they can use,” said Velazquez. “Just for the Bucks, they’re just glad that they’ll have that depth now. They signed Brandon Jennings, who had been playing in China earlier this season, they signed him back in March and he had to get some pretty significant minutes at times because he was the only point guard they had. But now you can run [Malcolm] Brogdon out there, you can have [Matthew Dellavedova] out there and those guys are going to give you a better opportunity to win on most nights.”
The Bucks beat reporter mentioned Kidd and discussed how there are minimal differences under interim coach Joe Prunty. In the matchup with Stevens, he warns Celtics fans not to overreact. Prunty has experience as an assistant in the playoffs for Gregg Popovich.
As for slowing budding superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo;
“When teams in the past have slowed him down, they’ve definitely created a wall with two or three guys, especially in transition; trying to stop him from getting into the paint and getting easy drives,” Velazquez told Celtics Beat. “Defenders have stayed vertical in those situations and challenged him without fouling. And that can frustrate him if he’s not getting foul calls on plays when he thinks he should.”
Velazquez also spoke about Boston’s potential advantages. Particularly, it seems, on the offensive interior. Guys like Greg Monroe, Al Horford and Aron Baynes should be able to score in the paint against Antetokounmpo, Parker, Tyler Zeller and John Henson.
The Bucks may be looking forward to this matchup as a winnable 2-7 series, but they won’t be taking the Celtics lightly. They can thank heavy veteran presence, and former green-teamer, Jason Terry for that.
“I’m pretty sure Jason Terry said, ‘If you think you’re going to walk into Boston and beat the Celtics then you’re crazy,” Velazquez told Kaufman. “It’s not that easy. It’s not how it goes,'”