at Boston Celtics (43-21) at Milwaukee Bucks (53-12)
Friday, July 31, 2020
6:30 PM ET
ESPN, NBCSB, Fox Sports WI
Seeding Game #1
Radio: 98.5 Sports Hub, 103.3 FM WTMJ
HP Field House, Wide World of Sports Probable Starting Matchups Point Guard
Kemba Walker vs Donte DiVincenzoShooting Guard
Jaylen Brown vs Wesley Matthews
Gordon Hayward vs Khris MiddletonPower Forward
Jayson Tatum vs Giannis Antetokounmpo
Daniel Theis vs Brook LopezCeltics Reserves
Robert Williams III
None Head Coach
Brad Stevens Bucks Reserves
Eric Bledsoe (covid recovery)
Pat Connaughton (covid recovery)
Marvin Williams (groin) questionable
Frank Mason (back) probable
Cam Reynolds NWTHead Coach
Mike BudenholzerGame Notes
The Celtics begin the seeding games with a tough matchup against the #1 team in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks. This is the 3rd and final game between these two teams this season. The Celtics won 116-105 on 10/30 in Boston and lost 128-123 in Milwaukee on 1/16. The Celtics were playing in the second of back to back games in the loss. They were without Jaylen Brown for both of those games.
The Bucks won the series 2-1 last season and they also knocked the Celtics out of the second round of the playoffs 4 games to 1. The Celtics lead the series all time 110-104. The Bucks lead the East, 6.5 games ahead of Toronto and 9.5 games ahead of the Celtics, who are the 3rd seed, 2.5 games ahead of 4th place Miami. The Celtics are 5-5 in their last 10 games while the Bucks are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
These teams were scheduled to play on March 12 but instead the season was put on hold and the Celtics returned to Boston from Milwaukee and went into quarantine. The Celtics are 1-2 in the preliminary scrimmages while the Bucks were 2-1 in their 3 scrimmages. The Celtics are 27-10 vs Eastern Conference teams while the Bucks are 34-5 against the East, with one of those 5 losses being against the Celtics.
The Bucks will be without their starting point guard. Eric Bledsoe joined the team late after testing positive for Covid. He arrived in the Bubble on Wednesday and practiced Friday but is expected to miss this game as he gets his conditioning back. Pat Connaughton is also still working on coming back from Covid and is listed as out.
Marvin Williams is questionable with a groin injury. Frank Mason has been dealing with a sore back but is listed as probable. Cam Reynolds did not join the team in Orlando and is sitting out the season restart. For the Celtics, everyone should be good to go. Kemba Walker's ,knee is reportedly as strong as it has been since September but he will be on a 20 minute maximum restriction for this game. Key Matchups
Jayson Tatum vs Giannis Antetokounmpo
This is definitely the key matchup. Giannis is averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game. He is shooting 49.9% from the field and 30.6% from beyond the arc. One player won't be able to slow Antetokounmpo down so we should see some double teams. Also, in the past, Marcus Smart and Semi Ojeleye have both had some success in guarding him. Slowing Antetokounmpo down will definitely be a key to getting a win.
Gordon Hayward vs Khris Middleton
Middleton is a star and can score in bunches if not defended well. He is averaging 21.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists. He is shooting 49.9% from the field and 41.8% from beyond the arc. Hayward will need to stick with him both inside and out. Middleton averaged 24.5 points in the first two games between these teams. Honorable Mention
Kemba Walker vs Donte DiVincenzo
With Bledsoe expected to sit out, Donte DiVincenzo is likely to get the start. He has started 22 games for the Bucks this season and is averaging 9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game. He is shooting 46.2% from the field and 34.4% from beyond the arc. Kemba will be limited to under 20 minutes in this game but should be a good challenge for DiVincenzo while he is in there. Keys to the Game Defense
- Defense wins championships and defense wins games. The Celtics are 4th in the league with a defensive rating of 106.2 while the Bucks are first with a defensive rating of 101.6. The Bucks are shooting 47.7% from the field and 35.6% from beyond the arc, while the Celtics are shooting 45.9% from the field and 36.3% from beyond the arc. The Celtics must play tough in your face defense both inside (where they average 50 points in the paint) and on the perimeter (where they have some good shooters) for the entire 48 minutes if they want to win. They won't win a shoot out with the Bucks and so have to increase their defensive intensity. Rebound
- Next to defense, rebounding is a key to winning. Much of rebounding is effort and desire and when the Celtics put out the extra effort on the boards, it usually carries through to the rest of their game. The Celtics average 46.0 rebounds per game while the Bucks average 51.7 rebounds per game. The Celtics must increase their effort to crash the glass as a team and beat the Bucks to rebounds. Effort and Focus
- The Celtics must come out focused against the Bucks and have to play hard. Anything less than maximum effort and the Celtics will start the seeding games with a loss. They can't start slow and allow the Bucks to get a lead because it will be very hard to come back against the Bucks tough defense. They also can't let up at any point. They have to stay focused and put out maximum effort for 48 minutes. Move the Ball
- When the Celtics move the ball and find the open man, they are tough to beat. When the Celtics dribble too much and play hero ball, it usually ends badly. They have to play team ball and trust each other and make the extra pass to find the open man. They also have to focus on making crisp passes and not get sloppy or the Bucks will make them pay. Communicate
- Brad Stevens mentioned that Chris Paul dominated with his voice in their game against the Thunder. The Celtics must be more vocal and communicate with each other on the court. They also have to be vocal from the bench to give their teammates a boost because even with the piped in noise, hearing their teammates cheering them on and giving them pointers from the bench is important.
X-Factors Bubble Conditions
- This is a whole new game for a lot of reasons. There are no crowds and the courts are different without the key and the sidelines painted. There will be piped in crowd noise but that isn't the same as thousands of fans in an arena live. They have played 3 scrimmages under these conditions but this is the first game that counts. Which team will adapt to these conditions quicker and easier? Officiating
- Even in the bubble the officiating can make a big difference. There aren't home fans to influence their whistles, but as we have seen over the years, referees have quirks and agendas. Some call the game tight, some let them play, and some call it somewhere in between. The Celtics need to adapt to the way the game is being called and not let bad calls or no calls frustrate them and take away their focus.