By Griffin Finch
The Boston Celtics took on the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round in this years playoffs. Each of the games in this home and home series were individually very compelling. Overall the games were very competitive and close throughout with no team ever losing at home. With neither team losing at home it put Boston in a position to close the series out in seven games in front of their home crowd at TD Garden.
The Milwaukee Bucks, the unarguably more talented team in the series looked poised for an epic first round upset. Especially with injuries to their two best players in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Milwaukee had the Greek Freak: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Thon Maker. That is a lineup that is incomprehensibly long and athletic. The Celtics on the other hand were highlighted by Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Terry Rozier. So you may be asking: With the apparent talent disparity between the teams how did the Bucks lose the series? Well the Bucks were certainly able to defend with all their length and athleticism, but it was on offense where they severely struggled to produce. Simply put, the offense the Bucks employed was give the ball to Giannis and let him drive to the basket. There was no off-ball movement making it very easy for the defensive minded Celtics to defend. However, I do not blame any of the players for this. Jason Kidd was fired during the season reportedly because a majority of the players wouldn’t buy into the system he wanted to run. So to think that interim head coach Joe Prunty would be able to get those players to buy in is preposterous. As the head coach though it is Prunty’s responsibility to get his guys to accept and learn the system he uses. So I ultimately put this loss on the Bucks management because firing a coach mid season never works out and the problems it creates only compiles if that team makes it to the postseason.
Boston has been hit by the injury bug pretty bad this year. Despite this, they ended up with the second seed in the east and won their first round match up exceeding all expectations anyone had for them after the Gordon Hayward injury. They went on lead by Kyrie Irving to be one of the most feared teams in the league as well as being a defensive powerhouse. They seemed to be hitting their stride as the season came to a close, then out of nowhere Kyrie goes down after a season ending knee surgery. They continued to fight into the playoffs and beat the Bucks with clever and creative offense and defensive tenacity. All the credit goes to Brad Stevens. No matter what happens to his team he always puts his players in positions to succeed. That is why Terry Rozier looked like the second coming of Kyrie Irving with his heroics. It’s why the offense was so good going through Al Horford. It’s why Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum look like future all stars. This series to me came down to coaching, and all due respect to Joe Prunty but he will never be nearly the coach that Brad Stevens is.
This summer the Bucks primary objective is to get a head coach that will reign in the players and get them playing together. As far as the roster goes, Eric Bledsoe hasn’t seemed to work out so they may try to move him and get an upgrade at point guard. They should also look to acquire a couple of pure shooters to spread the floor for them. Boston takes on Philadelphia in the second round. This will be a real test for them as they are once again outmatched in terms of talent, but also Brett Brown and his staff are very competent and will not roll over to Brad Stevens. It should be an interesting series but at some point Boston’s current lack of talent will catch up to them.