In week three of my journey through the NBA playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks trailed the Boston Celtics by one game. With the first round wrapping up and another beginning, things were tense.
In the first elimination game of the series for the Bucks, they returned to Milwaukee. Boston jumped out to an early lead, which was a little cause for concern because the team who led after one quarter of each game had gone on to win. Fortunately, the Bucks were on a run of their own when time ran out so the remaining two point deficit didn’t feel too bad. Marcus Smart was crying again after getting accidentally stepped on by Thon Maker so basically everything picked up right where it left off in game five.
During the second quarter, I started to wonder if Tony Snell was good during the regular season because he seemed to be pretty quiet in the playoffs. Turns out, he doesn’t average a ton of points and a decrease in playing time saw that drop even more in the postseason. But on my way to finding this information, I stumbled across the Bucks’ roster and saw that Giannis Antetokounmpo is 23 years old. This man was born in 1994! WHAAAAAAAAT!!! I know that NBA players can be younger because some need less time in college, but I figured with Giannis’ time playing basketball in Greece that he was a little older.
During the broadcast, I learned that it has been 17 years (or about 74% of Giannis’ lifetime) since the Bucks won a playoff series. I didn’t realize I was cheering for the NBA version of the Washington Nationals, but this new information did nothing to kill my excitement. After all, the future is incredibly bright with a young player who can make plays like this.
— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 27, 2018
Giannis steal! Giannis dunk! And the Bucks led by nine points at half.
In what was a common theme of this series, the Boston Celtics came back to make things very interesting after halftime. But the fans in Milwaukee were confident and they started an “MVP” chant while Giannis was shooting free throws. The Bucks didn’t let them down. They outrebounded the Celtics and evened the series again.
Thon Maker started off the series finale hitting everything: blocks, oops, threes, all of it. Unfortunately, not much else went right for the Bucks in the first quarter. Boston went on a big run. Giannis accidentally tipped in an own goal and it felt like a bad omen. Then Eric Bledsoe got a stupid technical foul for a push.
In quarter two, Boston continued to hold a wide lead and my bad feeling grew worse. Marcus Smart did what he does best, flopped like a baby, to get Giannis in foul trouble. Someone in Boston needs to mind their oversized infant.
Things did not improve in the third quarter. Boston just played too well for the whole series and especially at home. With about a minute left, I started to accept it. I poured myself a drink and I rarely drink. Then I consoled myself by browsing the NBA store for a Bucks shirt.
During the broadcast, Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens was asked how they planned to guard Giannis and I enjoyed his answer: multiple bodies. That’s the only way and even Boston knew it. He is a very exciting player and I hope we see a lot more of him in future playoffs.
The broadcast also showed NBA commissioner Adam Silver and Mr. Silver, I need you to drop that skincare regimen, sir. I’m sure being rich helps, but he looks like he cleanses with babies’ blood or something equally weird. And I say that as the owner of not one, but two products that contain snail mucin. This is what I think about to distract myself from my team falling apart.
Because he just couldn’t help himself, Marcus Smart was again lying on the deck, crying to the officials in the fourth quarter. Everything was just coming up Celtics. I knew this was the sad part of the underdog stories I love so much – they scrap and claw, but sometimes the best they can do is force a game seven, not win it. Boston finished with the W, 112-96.
All in all, the Bucks were charming, fun to root for, and played with heart. They just don’t quite have the supporting cast yet. I give credit to the Celtics – so many of their players stepped up in a big way. The Bucks will be missed, but I have a feeling I’ll be back.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics
One thing I was looking forward to about this series was watching Joel Embiid, who is proof that I don’t hate all of the former Big 12 foes of Iowa State. On the flip side, Marcus Smart’s injured thumb was bothering him again in the first half. He’ll have you believe he gets hurt that bad in every game. If you thought the Celtics being my new “team” meant I would stop hating, you thought wrong.
I learned that JJ Redick also plays for the 76ers. I didn’t realize he has a sleeve now, but I like it.
The Celtics still have home court advantage and they played so well again. Rumors of their demise due to injuries appear to have been greatly exaggerated. I will admit that I had a hard time cheering for them after the first series. One positive I’m going to focus on is Al Horford. I’d never heard of him before the series against the Bucks, but he played very well. In game one against Philly, he shot 10-12 from two, 2-3 from three, and a perfect 4-4 on free throws.
Nothing average about Al. ?? pic.twitter.com/2UPNCIm9FI
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 1, 2018
Terry Rozier wore a Drew Bledsoe jersey pre-game as one last shot at the Bucks’ Eric Bledsoe. Normally I live for the petty stuff, but I think I’m still bitter because he played a big role in defeating Milwaukee.
The Celtics took game one 117-101 and, in terms of momentum and points scored, it felt similar to the Bucks-Celtics series. I appreciate the context because it tells me that maybe this wasn’t so much about the Bucks not being good as it was about the Celtics being extremely good. We’ll see if I can overcome my hurt feelings in week four and join the Boston bandwagon.