BOSTON – This best-of-seven series between Boston and Milwaukee has been reduced to a best-of-three affair with the two teams locked into a 2-2 series tie.
As we’ve seen in the past, there’s an increased amount of pressure for both teams as a series progresses.
Still, with the Celtics being at home and the stakes being what they are – the loser will be facing playoff elimination in Game 6 on Thursday – a heightened level of stress for all involved seems a given right?
“You can certainly look at it that way,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens. “Or you can look at it and say we have been around basketball all of our lives and we got a best of three to go on to the next round. It’s a challenge, it’s fun. It’s what you’re here for.”
Jaylen Brown has been one of Boston’s top players in this series, averaging a team-high 23.8 points per game.
Brown knows as well as anyone how these are highly stressful times but understands his focus – and the rest of the Celtics' for that matter – has to be on doing whatever is needed to come away with a Game 5 win.
“It’s one game at a time,” Brown said. “That’s how I look at it. We come out and play as if it’s Game 1. Be relaxed but also come out and have that same intensity that we brought in Game 4, Game 1 and Game 2 and see where that takes us.”
Here are five below-the-radar storylines heading into Game 5:
HORFORD IN THE POST
Boston has been at its best in this series when Al Horford has had a good amount of touches in the half court where he can work on Milwaukee’s low-post defenders. According to nba.com/stats, Horford is averaging 5.3 points on post-ups which is third in the playoffs behind San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge (10.5) and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (6.5).
Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton has been scoring in an array of ways for the Bucks, with a sizable chunk of the scoring damage he inflicts coming by way of the spot-up shot. In fact, he’s averaging 8.0 points on spot-ups in the postseason which trails only Portland’s Al Farouq Aminu (11.5).
Terry Rozier will be looking to step his scoring game up tonight, for sure. His passing game in the playoffs has really strong. In fact, only Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (88.5) has more passes in the postseason thus far than Rozier (76.8) according to nba.com/stats.
While Giannis Antetokounmpo has had success against pretty much every Boston Celtic in the playoffs, rookie forward Semi Ojeleye has done as good a job as anyone when it comes to defending Antetokounmpo. Don’t be surprised if Ojeleye sees a spike in minutes played in Game 5. In Boston’s Game 4 loss, Ojeleye saw more than 17 minutes of court time, with Marcus Morris (he played 26 minutes, 19 seconds) being the only Celtic reserve to log more minutes.
The Milwaukee Bucks are shooting 54.2 percent from the field in the playoffs which is tops among all playoff teams. That includes them shooting at least 50 percent from the field in their past three games, something Milwaukee hasn’t done in the playoffs since April 27-May 1, 1990.
- MORE BLAKELY - Brown and Tatum emerging as rising stars in this series