Celtics

Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks had the NBA's best record in the regular season and cruised through the first round of the NBA playoffs, sweeping the Detroit Pistons. Superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo was fantastic all year and likely will win the NBA's MVP award.

All of that and more led oddsmakers to peg the Bucks as -300 favorites to beat the Boston Celtics in their Eastern Conference semifinals series starting Sunday afternoon at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee. The Celtics came into Milwaukee and dominated the Bucks for a 112-90 series-opening victory. Boston's defense was fantastic, limiting Antetokounmpo to 22 points on 7-for-21 shooting while forcing him into tough looks at the basket.

The performance was enough for Celtics legend and current ESPN NBA analyst Paul Pierce to make a bold declaration about the series. "I think it's over," Pierce said during ABC's postgame coverage. Check out the beginning of his remarks in the video below:

The Celtics won't sweep the Bucks -- a long series remains the most likely outcome -- but this Game 1 did help show that Boston unequivocally has more talent. The Celtics' depth, especially when the Bucks are without an injured Malcolm Brogdon, is far superior to Milwaukee's. 

 

The Celtics have so many players capable of stepping up when others play poorly. Jayson Tatum scored only four points in 30 minutes Sunday, but Jaylen Brown stepped up with 19 points on 8-for-14 shooting. Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier both scored in double-figures off the bench. Marcus Morris had nine points but shot an efficient 4-for-6 from the field. Kyrie Irving has enjoyed more playoff success in his career than any player in the series and dropped 26 points (without taking a single free throw) with 11 assists Sunday. He's also by far the best late-game closer on either team. 

The Bucks will be better in Game 2 on Tuesday night. It would be difficult for them to play any worse than Game 1. But the Celtics do have more talent. It took the C's nearly the entire regular season to figure out the best rotations and how to fit everyone's talents into one cohesive unit, but through five playoff games (all wins), it looks like Brad Stevens has found a solution (or at least something better than what we saw throughout the regular season).

So, while Pierce's bold comments may sound insane, they're not totally crazy. The Celtics should win this series, and their chances improved after stealing homecourt advantage with a Game 1 victory.

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