Antetokounmpo has also shown a penchant for playing well against the Celtics, dominating against them in four games this season, and Horford will have a hard time containing him in this series. This should be a tough and hard-fought series for both teams and should be full of excitement.
Despite the injuries, Boston still reeled off 55 wins, good for second place in the Eastern Conference.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens has praised the mettle of his team through dramatic comebacks and injuries that would have debilitated most squads all season. In contrast, Middleton has had his worst shooting season since his rookie year, with his 35.9% from deep nearly 8% less than last year.
It was 92-91 with less than a minute to play when a pair of free throws by Horford made it 94-91. Even after Irving was ruled out for the remainder of the season and postseason, the Celtics reeled off several impressive wins and put together a winning record down the stretch. "So the thumb felt well". Theis suffered a torn meniscus in his knee and will miss the playoffs. In addition, they'll need their defense - which has been bad at times this season - to step up and stifle the shorthanded Celtics. Many players stepped up for the team and contributed on a massive scale.
Their early offensive troubles aside, five Celtics scored 19 or more points, including a 24-point, 12-rebound double-double from Al Horford and rookie Jayson Tatum's 19-point, 10-rebound performance in his playoff debut.
The Bucks, on the other hand, have had a solid year as well.
The Celtics could have potentially coasted through this series if Irving and Hayward were healthy, but that's not the case, so they'll have to keep The Greek Freak contained to give themselves a good chance of advancing, and that's when the more experience head coaching skills of Stevens comes into play. And if you're unfortunate enough to lose two stars, you still have that third player who you believe is capable of rising to the occasion and responding positively to the increased responsibility.
In a league where only two-dozen players play in the All-Star Game each year, it's not easy to have one of those players on your team, let alone multiple. The Bucks son the October 18 game 108-100 and the April 3 meeting 106-102.