The Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks series is over, with the Bucks winning in just five games. After the Celtics dismantled the Bucks in game one in Milwaukee, many predicted the Celtics would win the series. Paul Pierce even said that the series was over after just one game. This was of course not the case, as the Bucks would win the next four games by an average of 16 points per game. While the Celtics as a whole were bad, Kyrie Irving was especially bad.
Series Review: Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks
The Disappearance of Kyrie Irving
Irving was coming off of one the best seasons of his career, averaging 23.8 points and 6.9 assists per game with an effective field goal percentage (EFG%) of 0.557. Effective field goal percentage is an efficiency stat that measures three-pointers as 1.5 times the value of two-pointers. League average is 0.524. Against the Indiana Pacers in the playoffs, Irving averaged 22.5 points and 7.8 assists per game with an EFG% of 0.500. While these numbers don’t jump off the page, they aren’t necessarily bad either.
However, against the Bucks, these numbers took a dive. He averaged 20.4 points and 6.4 assists per game with an EFG% of 0.389. More importantly, Irving played poorly in game five, the most important game. With the season on the line, Irving surprisingly played terribly. Up until this game, Irving averaged 31.2 points and 4.0 assists per game with an EFG% of 0.583 in elimination games. In this elimination game though, Irving had 15 points and only one assist with an EFG% of 0.310. This has caused some Celtics fans to turn on Irving, saying that they don’t want him back this summer.
How Well Did the Celtics Defend Giannis Antetokounmpo?
The Celtics defensive scheme for Antetokounmpo and the Bucks was one of the more interesting topics of this series. Many wondered if Brad Stevens had something up his sleeve for defending Antetokounmpo. For the first game, he did. With Al Horford as his primary defender, Antetokounmpo only had 11 points on 11 shot attempts. He had 22 points on 21 shot attempts in total. The Celtics played great help defense and whenever Antetokounmpo drove, he ran into a wall of Celtics defenders. However, this didn’t remain the same for the whole series. Antetokounmpo eventually found his footing, averaging 33 points per 75 possessions with an EFG% of 0.630 against Horford. His averages for the whole series were 28.4 points, 11.0 rebounds, and 5.2 assists per game with an EFG% of 0.564.
What’s Next for the Celtics and Bucks?
The Bucks have a very clear next step; win the conference finals. However, in the offseason, they have a few key free agents. They are Malcolm Brogdon, Brook Lopez, and Nikola Mirotic. The Bucks have the bird rights to Brogdon and Mirotic. This means that the Bucks can go over the cap limit to sign them. They will likely resign all three.
The Celtics, on the other hand, have a very difficult offseason ahead. Not only is their best player a free agent, but they may make a massive trade for Anthony Davis. Irving, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Morris are all free agents. Horford has a player option worth 30 million dollars that he’ll likely accept, and Aron Baynes has one worth 5.5 million dollars.
Baynes may decline it in order to get a longer deal. The Celtics will likely want Rozier to sign elsewhere, as he had a very poor season with them this past year. Morris had a very solid yet inconsistent season with the Celtics. Before the New Year, he averaged 15.5 points with an EFG% of 0.599. After the New Year, however, he averaged 12.7 points with an EFG% of 0.478%. The Celtics would likely sign him for the right price. Irving though is the tricky one. Earlier in the season, he famously said he wanted to resign. However, that was before a very rocky and drama-filled season. Because Irving is such a strange character, it really is a shot in the dark to predict where he’ll sign. If he wants to return to the Celtics, they would almost certainly sign him.
The Celtics also have quite a few first round picks. They get the Memphis Grizzlies’ first-round pick if it’s out of the top eight, and they get the Sacramento King’s first-round pick if it isn’t first. They also get the Los Angeles Clippers’ first-round pick, and they have their own. Memphis is tied for the seventh best odds at the number one pick with two other teams. Sacramento is tied for the 12th best odds with two other teams. The Clippers are tied for 18th with two other teams, and Boston is tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 21st pick.
A Short Series
This series ended up being the shortest series out of all the conference semi-finals series’. While most games were relatively lopsided, the first half of each game was pretty competitive. This quick series will be helpful for the Bucks as they get some extra rest as they await the winner of the Philadelphia 76ers and the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics will now have more time to focus on the offseason and the many decisions awaiting.
LOS ANGELES, CA – FEBRUARY 18: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of Team Stephen goes for the lay up in the third quarter, during the 2018 NBA All-Star Game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California on February 18, 2018. (Photo by Philip Pacheco/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)