I’ve had some time to cool down after going on my rant yesterday in my recap article about the Bucks. While I was incredibly frustrated with how the Bucks defended and played overall Sunday, there were moments where they showed me that they COULD defend. They just never finished a possession. The Bucks had every opportunity to win on Sunday. But they beat themselves. Anyway, I’m over Sunday (I think) and it’s time to move on to Game 2.
I’ve come to the conclusion that the Bucks took the Celtics to overtime and didn’t play great at all in Game 1. So, optimistically, my thought process is as long as Bledsoe and Jabari show up tonight, the Bucks should have no problem, right? Bledsoe was awful on Sunday, and when Jabari saw the floor (which wasn’t much) he didn’t do anything. I mean after all, the Celtics are plagued with injury and the Bucks are what seem to be at full health. While that’s a great sign and makes me like the Bucks’ chances tonight, let me tell you why that doesn’t matter.
I have my basketball coach self telling me one thing, and my inner Bucks fan telling me another. My inner Bucks fan, just like every other Bucks fan, is telling myself that on paper, the Bucks should have no problem with the Celtics. Overall better roster and the Celtics are banged up and the Bucks are healthy. Here’s my coach self countering that statement: Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are injured..let me tell you who’s NOT injured…Brad Stevens.
Brad Stevens is the best coach in basketball right now and the #1 reason for the Celtics success in recent years. The Celtics on paper have no chance against the Bucks without their stars, but Brad Stevens makes them a great basketball team. On the flip side, the Bucks have a lame duck coach in Joe Prunty who doesn’t seem to know how to manage lineups and rotations and clearly doesn’t have any buy in from these players. I saw a video of him giving a speech after a practice and Khris Middleton looked like he was napping so hard that he might have been drooling. He was also “Mic’d Up” for Sunday’s game and listening to his in the huddle was about as painful as Eric Bledsoe’s ankles after Rozier snapped them. Anyway, Sunday Stevens had Boston running sets and plays every time down the floor and out of every timeout. Which, by the way, Stevens is the absolute BEST coach in America when it comes to out of time out sets and plays. The guy is an absolute surgeon. I went from watching Stevens coach his ass of with a young, inexperienced playoff roster, and execute just about every time down the floor. Prunty and the Bucks did their best to mirror that but lacked execution and Prunty just flat out got out-coached and that to me is the difference in this series. Brad Stevens is the reason the Celtics didn’t self implode and have their season absolutely crumble after they lost Hayward and Kyrie. The Celtics have NO business being in the playoffs without those guys and another guy at the helm other than Stevens. In all, the Bucks SHOULD win this series. They’re the better team on paper, they have one of the best young players in the world in Giannis. But because Brad Stevens is on the other bench, it will make it incredibly hard to beat this Celtics team.
As far as tonight goes, here are 3 reason why the Bucks WIN:
1. Defend the Screen & Roll, Limit Horford
Sunday, the Bucks struggled big time with the screen & roll. At times they switched everything, at times they fought over, and at times they did both? Al Horford is one of the best in the game when it comes to screen & roll and screen & pop. The Bucks need to put somebody other than Giannis on Horford. Hopefully, Prunty learned from that mistake as Horford made Giannis look silly in the low post Sunday scoring on him or drawing a foul every single time he touched the ball. They also need to realize that Horford can stretch the floor and shoot the 3. I get it, Horford is going to get his at times tonight. The Bucks don’t have anyone who can guard him. But if the Bucks hold him to under 20 and snag some of those 50/50 balls, I like their chances. If they defend the screen & roll, whether they switch it every time or fight through it, make it consistent and communicate, and they will be in good shape.
2. Force Turnovers and Run!
The Bucks are at their absolute best when they run the floor in transition. Giannis is one of the best in the game with the ball in his hands attacking the rim. The Bucks need to realize that they’re NOT a “half-court, let’s run sets” team. Can they run sets? Yes, absolutely! Sets to get Middleton open 3’s and Giannis to the rim. But they can’t rely on that. They need to speed the game up to their pace because Boston is the opposite. Boston wants to slow down and play in the half court. When the Bucks went on that run Sunday in the 2nd quarter it was because they finally defended well, forced turnovers, and got out in transition. The Bucks scored 16 fast break points and 27 points off of turnovers. The Bucks need to double their fast break points, and continue to score off of turnovers if they want to win. On the flip side, not turn the ball over 20 times on their end.
3. Bledsoe & Parker Score More Than 11 Combined Points
Let’s face it…Giannis and Khris Middleton can’t do it all. They combined for 66 and the other 8 guys that played scored 41. Bledsoe played awful on both ends of the floor Sunday, and when Jabari did see the floor he sucked. Bledsoe turned it over 5 times, and they were bad turnovers. Neither guy could defend anyone and both shot the ball poorly. In order for Milwaukee to steal one in Boston and get the split, one of these two has to score 20 or more.
Overall, the Bucks are in good shape here in Game 2. They got their “feel it out” game out of the way, and one can hope they get more production out of someone other than Middleton and Giannis. I don’t see Marcus Morris scoring 21 again and I sure as heck don’t see Terry Rozier scoring 23. Defend and out-rebound Boston, and you’ll have a tied series going into Friday night. #FearTheDeer