The Celtics swept the Pacers! I know this is late, blame professors who don’t know how to manage a course schedule and Avengers Endgame for absolutely clustering last week/the weekend.
Personally, I was a bit surprised that it was a sweep. Despite not having their star player, the Pacers finished with a top 3 defense in the league and still had enough scoring to be threatening to the Celtics. But playoff Kyrie showed up, surrounded by solid contributions from different guys every game.
The Bucks are much bigger challenge than Indiana despite the blowout in game 1 (trust me we’ll get there). Lead by my personal pick for MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks have thrived under new head coach Mike Budenholzer. They play a complete game, putting up a lot of points and playing great defense. The Bucks front office has done a great job surrounding Giannis with shooters that allow him to be more in control of the game because he can pass out to the open shooter or catch the defense guarding the shooters too much and drive to the basket and score at will. His freakish athleticism for being almost 7 feet tall and his equally freakish 7-foot 3-inch wingspan allow him to be a well-rounded player on offense and defense.
The also have the greatest quarterback in Patriots history Drew Bledsoe. Oh, wait a minute; wrong Bledsoe and wrong quarterback, how embarrassing. In all seriousness, Eric Bledsoe has played extremely well in his first full season in Milwaukee, as well as new big man Brook Lopez (offensively that is). Then there is all-star Khris Middleton, one of many noted guys who aren’t the best guy on their team but absolutely thrive against the Celtics (same with his teammate Nikola Mirotic).
As we’ve seen, the Celtics aren’t a pushover though. Kyrie Irving does things I didn’t know were humanly possible on a basketball court. Al Horford is all-star caliber and all defensive first team and if you object, you’re wrong. Jaylen Brown can dunk on just about anyone. Aron Baynes makes this teams defense elite. When they are cohering like this, like we mistakenly thought they would early on, they can stand up to any team, especially with the Warriors looking more vulnerable than usual. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Coach Budenholzer deservingly is getting a ton a praise for what he’s done with this team, but Brad Stevens has the Celtics clicking on all cylinders at the right time. I think coach Stevens and the Celtics defensive versatility will be the key to this series. They are a lot more flexible with who can guard who than the Bucks are because Brook Lopez is not a good defender, unlike the Celtics big men (insert video of Al Horford blocking like 100 shots in game 1 here). Winning game one on the road is crucial for the team without home court advantage, now all they have to do is protect home court for their 3 home games. But this Celtics team is infinitely better on the road than last year’s team (last year’s team won 1 road playoff game; this year’s team already has 3). The Bucks will undoubtedly bounce back but I think the Celtics will be ready. Celtics in 6 or 7.