Celtics

About Last Night: Bucks complete sweep, advance to face Celtics

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About Last Night: Bucks complete sweep, advance to face Celtics

WHAT WE'RE TALKING ABOUT

Forsberg: Bring on the Bucks!  

Fans in Milwaukee chanted “We want Boston” outside the Bucks' new arena while the team finished off their sweep in Detroit, setting up the second-round matchup between the Celtics and Bucks. 

After two snoozeworthy first-round matchups, this one shouldn’t lack for interest. It’s simply hard to gauge, based on the breeziness of Round 1, where both teams stand. Did the Celtics really make strides or did they feast on a star-less Pacers squad? Are the Bucks ready for the big playoff stage after being the best team in the NBA during the regular season, or did they just roll through an underwhelming Pistons team? We’ve got way too much time to ponder it all before this series tips.

In our pre-playoffs predictions, I had the Celtics winning in 7. I’m sticking with that pick, and I’ll remind you that I was as bullish on the Bucks as anyone this season. While home court could be pivotal here and the Celtics won't have that luxury like a year ago, I do believe the Celtics have the deeper and more talented roster.

Things get murkier if Malcolm Brogdon can return in this series (he’s been a Celtics killer) and the absence of Marcus Smart looms large if Khris Middleton has a series like he did last year. Ultimately, this series hinges on 1) Whether the Celtics can prevent Giannis Antetokounmpo from going supernova and winning games on his own and 2) How does Milwaukee’s supporting cast respond if the Celtics essentially challenge that group to beat them?

If the Celtics get the sort of top-8 contributions they got last round, if Terry Rozier can take out another mortgage in Eric Bledsoe’s head, then Boston can win this series. Alas, if Boston endures the maddening lulls we saw throughout Round 1 and doesn’t take care of the basketball, the Bucks will punish them.

Elsewhere, it felt a little bit like IT Time watching Donovan Mitchell explode for 19 fourth-quarter points as the Jazz prevented a sweep. Alas, we’re all just waiting for Rockets-Warriors.

Blakely: (Never) Fear the Deer! 

Aside from Philadelphia, Milwaukee is the most ideal second-round matchup for the Boston Celtics — which sounds crazy I know, when you're talking about the team that finished with the best record not just in the East, but the NBA!

Although Milwaukee won two of the three regular-season matchups, we have seen too many examples through the years (take the Portland-Oklahoma City series that the Blazers lead 3-1 after losing all four regular season matchups to the Thunder) where what happened then has not impacted on the playoffs. 

This is a tough series to gauge because there are some pretty ginormous X-factors that could easily sway this series in one team's direction. Malcolm Brogdon is likely to find his way on to the floor at some point in this series as he nears a return from a plantar fascia injury. Depending on where he's at health and conditioning-wise, he could revive his role of making life miserable for the Celtics with his clutch shot-making and strong defense. 

Marcus Smart doesn't seem close enough to return in this series, but knowing how badly he wants to be out there and how much they will surely miss his absence in this round versus the first round against Indiana, no one should be totally shocked if he makes a miraculous return before this series ends. 

And let's not forget about Terry Rozier whose coming out party of sorts in the postseason began with Boston's first-round series against Milwaukee. His minutes won't be nearly as plentiful but he still has to make an impact whether it's scoring, defending or trolling Eric Bledsoe and taking him off his game.

Kudos to ex-Celtic Jae Crowder who was the real MVP in Utah's Game 4 win that kept their season alive. Crowder had only scored 19 points in the first three games total, but erupted for Utah's first 12 that set the tone for their victory over Houston. Utah would have to go on an unprecedented run to win the series that they now trail 3-1. And while Utah exposed what may be Houston's greatest weakness — an unwillingness to adjust in a way that doesn't involve shooting 3's — it's hard to imagine the Jazz can do what we saw last night three more times. 
 

SO... THAT HAPPENED


MONDAY'S SCOREBOARD

  • Bucks 127, Pistons 104 (MIL wins series 4-0)
  • Jazz 107, Rockets 91 (HOU leads series 3-1)

NUMBER OF NOTE

+95 — The Bucks' point differential in their four-game sweep of the Pistons. That's the second-largest margin in a four-game sweep in NBA history.

THEY SAID IT

“We definitely owe them something from last year. We’re gonna play hard.”

--Giannis Antetokounmpo on advancing to face the Celtics in the playoffs for the second straight season

WHAT WE'LL BE TALKING ABOUT

Forsberg: One series of interest (unless the Sixers and Nets fight each other) 

It feels like there could be an awful lot of clinching going on Tuesday night with three higher seeds looking to close out with 3-1 leads at home. All of which leaves San Antonio-Denver as the marquee matchup of the night. We thought the Spurs had upset potential but Jamal Murray has had enough big moments to keep things interesting. Feels harder now to see a way the Spurs grind this out.

Still staggering to see OKC down 3-1 when you consider the talent they’ve got. To have both Russell Westbrook and Paul George and still be on the verge of another early exit is just bewildering. It speaks to the still-underrated backcourt in Portland but Oklahoma City has some real tough decisions ahead considering its recent playoff disappointments.

In a first round largely devoid of entertaining matchups in the East, the Nets and Sixers have brought a much-needed dose of spice. Philadelphia seemed to lock up that series by fending off the Nets in Game 4 but let’s hope for more trash talk and dust-ups before this series is over.

Blakely: New Kids on the Block, meet Father Time 

While they won't admit it, there has to be a sense among some within the Denver Nuggets organization that the one year where they do some pretty amazing things as a young team on the rise, their first challenge as the newcomers to this postseason thing is a first-round date with the longest-running postseason show in the NBA. 

I love the way Jamal Murray has experienced the tremendous highs and lows that come with big-time playoff basketball. It will serve him and the Nuggets well going forward in what feels like it's going to be a seven-game series. 

The Brooklyn Nets showed their youth and lack of late-game experience in losing Game 4, a game that they really did play well enough to win if not for their struggles to make plays down the stretch.

And the petty, trash talking between both teams?

It has become a nice distraction in this series that unfortunately will be coming to an end soon.

Speaking of petty trash talk, the back and forth between Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard has been absolute gold. Two of the most talented, highly competitive guards in our league, Lillard has the edge both in terms of talk and the series which Portland leads 3-1. 
 

TUESDAY'S SCHEDULE

  • Magic at Raptors, Game 5 (TOR leads series 3-1) — 7:00pm, NBATV
  • Nets at 76ers, Game 5 (PHI leads series 3-1) — 8:00pm, TNT
  • Spurs at Nuggets, Game 5 (Series tied 2-2) — 9:30pm, NBATV
  • Thunder at Trail Blazers, Game 5 (POR leads series 3-1) — 10:30pm, TNT

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Classic Celtics: Larry Bird lifts C's over Rockets in 1986 NBA Finals clincher

Some consider the 1986 Boston Celtics one of the greatest NBA teams of all time.

Here's your chance to watch them finish off that historic season.

NBC Sports Boston's "Classic Celtics" series -- which brought you Kemba Walker's 32-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday -- rolls on Friday with Game 6 of the 1986 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Houston Rockets.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Celtics news and analysis

The Rockets took Game 5 in Houston to send the series back to Boston, but they weren't prepared for Larry Bird, whose magnificent performance in Game 6 (29 points, 11 rebounds, 12 assists) helped the C's earn a 114-97 win and clinch their 16th NBA championship.

Our re-broadcast of Celtics-Rockets airs Friday at 7 p.m. ET, and if watching Bird at the height of his powers wasn't entertaining enough, former Celtics center Bill Walton will join Brian Scalabrine throughout the night to provide color commentary.

Here's when and how to watch:

When: Friday, April 3, 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBC Sports Boston
Streaming: NBCSportsBoston.com and in the MyTeams app

Click here to listen and subscribe to the Celtics Talk Podcast:

Celtics-Heat simulation: C's dominate in Eastern Conference showdown

Celtics-Heat simulation: C's dominate in Eastern Conference showdown

The NBA season has been put on hold due to the coronavirus crisis, meaning we may have to wait until mid-April at the earliest to watch the Boston Celtics again.

As a way to make up for the loss of Celtics action, we'll be using the NBA 2K20 video game to simulate each game on the schedule until they finally return.

PREVIOUS FIVE SIMULATIONS

The Celtics were supposed to be taking on the Miami Heat on Wednesday in an Eastern Conference showdown. Here's how our simulation of the marquee matchup went:

CELTICS STATS

If you've been paying any sort of attention to these simulations the past couple of weeks, you've noticed that Kemba Walker has been on an absolute tear offensively. That didn't change Wednesday, as he dropped a game-high 32 points to lead the way in the C's blowout win.

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, a.k.a. "Fire and Ice," continued their strong offensive output with 27 and 21 points respectively. Tatum was a force on the defensive end as well, notching nine rebounds, three steals and three blocks.

With the game in hand, Boston's reserves played for nearly the entire fourth quarter. Brad Wanamaker and Vincent Poirier tallied seven points each off the bench.

HEAT STATS

Four Heat players scored in double figures, but it still wasn't enough to keep up with the Celtics. Jimmy Butler led Miami with 21 points, though he struggled from the field going just 7-for-21 shooting. Kendrick Nunn was far more efficient, going 6-for-13 and finishing with 19.

TEAM STATS

This game really wasn't close at any point, and in these sims, the C's have established themselves as the clear superior Eastern Conference squad. The biggest takeaways from the list of stats above are Boston's defensive prowess (12 steals, seven blocks), and dominance in the paint (54 points).

FINAL SCORE: Celtics 119, Heat 98

Make that nine wins in a row for the unstoppable NBA 2K Celtics. Can they keep it going? Tune in Friday for their next matchup vs. the Orlando Magic and find out.