Why Stephen A. Smith would take Celtics over Bucks in a playoff series


The Milwaukee Bucks are just a half-game behind the Boston Celtics for the best record in the NBA and Eastern Conference entering Monday.

The Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns at home Sunday afternoon for their 14th consecutive victory -- the longest win streak of any team during the 2022-23 season so far. It's been a very impressive run for the Bucks, and their best player, superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, has missed a few games due to injury.

But are they better than the Celtics?

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The last time these two teams played was Feb. 14 in Milwaukee, when the Celtics were without Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford and Marcus Smart. Despite those absences, the C's still took the Bucks to overtime and lost 131-125.

The only matchup this season where both teams were mostly healthy was a 139-118 win for the Celtics at TD Garden on Christmas Day. 

Despite the Bucks' impressive win streak over the last couple weeks, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith would still pick the Celtics to beat them in a playoff series, even if Antetokounmpo averaged 40 points per game in that matchup.


Check out his reasoning from Monday's episode of "First Take" in the video below:

Another Celtics-Bucks playoff series feels inevitable at this point, and if it does happen this spring, it likely would take place in the Eastern Conference finals. These teams have met in the postseason three times since the start of the 2017-18 campaign. The Celtics have won two of those three series, including a seven-game conference semifinals matchup last season.

Home court advantage will be important for the Celtics and Bucks, too. Playing Game 7 at home was a huge lift for the Celtics when they eliminated the Bucks in Round 2 last year. Home court should be a massive advantage again for whichever team earns it, and that will make the rest of the regular season exciting to watch as the C's and Bucks jockey for first place in the conference.