Being a prisoner of the moment is the default state as a fan. See: Literally every opening segment I’ve ever written for this “column” since I started it three years ago. We are winning, I am convinced that we will never lose again. We lose, I want everyone not named Giannis to take public transport back to hotel/airport/home. That’s what we’re here for.
Step back from Milwaukee’s 2-1 streak against the Boston Celtics, though, and I think we can all agree that things are starting to find their own balance. In Game 1, the Bucks bore the brunt of a truly debilitating defense against a Celtics team that just finished sending the NBA equivalent of traffic cones into the Brooklyn Nets. Then, in Game 2, Boston chose to dare Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday to beat them while bombing away from three, and a blowout ensued. Game 3 represents something of a middle ground between those results, with Boston tending to allow Al Horford to guard Giannis most of the time, Milwaukee pushing Jayson Tatum, and things ultimately come down to who the second-tier players could give enough to lift the team.
If true, the arithmetic for both teams is where things matter now. Giannis played about as well as we could reasonably expect unless another 50-piece performance – taking his USG% or Jrue Holiday’s much higher isn’t particularly doable, so the offense is on. the point of being exploited unless someone else systematically makes baskets. Our defense had two great outings and a landslide under their belt, which is pretty much in line with how the math is supposed to work. Given that, it looks like Boston could have a little more flexibility from a tactical standpoint (especially if reffing goes more decisively), which should worry most of us even though we may get out. We have the best player in the series, but this guy is also one of the only ones to be eliminated by the officials.
Matches four through seven will either be stone fights or we’ll get blown up. It’s good, but it will make watching stressful. But that’s usually how these close sets go, isn’t it?
Let’s go around!
To be the best, Jayson Tatum must beat the best (FiveThirtyEight)
*insert Celtics fan comment that The Best is an understatement for NBA referees here*
Kidding aside, there are some interesting numbers here, even though the piece was released between games one and two. Tatum getting the anointing as the Next Big Thing after the Celtics’ first-round sweep of the Brooklyn Nets was as much about his defense against Kevin Durant as his offensive production. Now, against a guy like Giannis and a defense like the Bucks, he’s having an even harder time improving his game. Wes Matthews has thrown two perfect games defending Tatum and it shows, and every time Tatum is replaced by the defense of Giannis, it almost always looks like it will end in disaster for him.
Boston got so much out of their lineup in Game 2 that it didn’t matter, and Jaylen Brown/Al Horford gave them enough in Game 3 to almost regain home court advantage. Are we due for the Tatum Escape Game? Or is it not yet at this level?
Celtics and Bucks play 3-and-D chess (The ring)
Math meets brawn without Khris Middleton meeting everything this series has become so far. Both teams have a pretty clear idea of how things are going to play out on a strategic level, so like most close series, this will turn into a tactic versus tactic grudge match. It’ll be whether Boston can find enough creases to generate a clean look versus how far Giannis can carry Milwaukee’s offense in turn. Fun.
In the NBA, you’re either trying to stop Giannis or find the next Giannis (The ring)
A fun piece well worth your time – indeed, probably the highlight of this group of links this morning. While Giannis continues to impact things from game to game, like every transcendent player in league history, his wake is forcing roster adjustments around the NBA. Indeed, Antetokounmpo has been so successful that guys in his mold (young, athletic, tall with room to build muscle without getting bulky) are now a hot topic. Whether any of them fit his very particular recipe for success is a big open question. Has anyone managed to find their own Michael Jordan or LeBron James while these guys were playing?
For Celtics and Bucks, no need to change things before Game 3 (NBA.com)
Correct heading in game three, and probably also correct heading in game four in addition to some rotation adjustments. Honestly, the outcome of Game 3 seems so much more in line with where these teams are, meaning without Khris Middleton to help break the deadlock, they’re pretty much even. Keep throwing punches because they’ll keep landing until one of those teams goes down.
Four Keys to Milwaukee Bucks Winning Second Straight NBA Championship (ESPN)
Would tend to be okay with all of this. Also win four games in each series from here each time you lift another trophy.
Fan Article of the Week
This one arrived at the buzzer as it looked dark on Sunday morning when I first checked. Even better, I think it’s also a very good article considering the larger discussion on refereeing! So iokouvo94, come and get your equipment for, “Game 3 and playoff defense”. These lines in the last paragraph summed up perfectly where we are:
“Referees allowing players like Williams, Horford or Wes to get away with a lot of contact were expected, allowing Giannis to drive on defenders and allowing them to get away with a lot was expected. The thing we didn’t expect was the sticky fouls that kept sending Boston down the line from off-the-ball situations.
know your enemy
You know who it is: Boston Celtics – Celtics Blog
That’s one hell of a quote, even if it’s taken out of context.
As usual, we encourage you to go check it out as it pays to get the temperature of an opponent and their fan base. As usual, we also don’t recommend throwing elbows in their comments section unless it’s constructive. But in the end, it’s up to you.
The social media section
Michael Redd is your favorite player’s favorite player
South Milwaukee in 2050*
Congratulations to these bag acquirers and sponsorship partners
S/O to all moms
We’re about to see the tempo of this series go up about ten notches after that four-day gap between games two and three. From now on, it’s every other night between these teams, which means advancement or elimination, this thing will be closed by the next MMMR! Frightening.
Game 4 is tonight in Milwaukee, Game 5 in Boston on Wednesday, Game 6 (if needed) Friday in Milwaukee and Game 7 (if needed) Sunday in Boston. Hard to believe we’ve only been through three of these things, but we haven’t even reached the midpoint yet. Buckle up and don’t forget to enjoy the moment!