The opening round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs was not very competitive. Domination was on display from the top four teams in the East. Despite dropping the opening game at home, the Toronto Raptors and Philadelphia 76ers began to flex their muscles in Game 2 and never looked back. The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics on the other hand, dispatch their opponents in clean sweeps. One sweep wasn’t surprising, but the other one was to a degree. Nevertheless, the Bucks and Celtics get together for a trip to the Conference Finals on the line.
Boston Sweeps Indiana
In the 4v5 matchup, the Boston Celtics faced the Indiana Pacers. A series where everyone thought in the East will be the most compelling series. It was anything but compelling. Without All-star, Victor Oladipo, the Pacers could not match up with the Celtics. Despite leading at halftime three of the four games in the series, the Pacers struggled in the second half.
In Game 1, Indiana led by 7 at halftime, but the Celtics outscored the Pacers 26-8 in the 3rd quarter. Game 1 goes to Boston. Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris each dropped 20 points. Five players for Boston scored in double-figures while Indiana had only two players score in double-figures. It was the 4th quarter in Game 2 that hurt the Pacers. Leading by 11 going into the 4th quarter, Indiana was outscored 31-12 in a 9-point Boston victory. Despite Indiana having four players score in double-figures, Kyrie Irving and Jason Tatum combined for 63 points for Boston.
Both of those games took place in Boston, but now the Pacers were home for Games 3 and 4. The Pacers’ 2nd half struggles continued at home. In Game 3, Pacers held a 2-point led at the half despite Boston scoring 41 points in the 1st quarter. But the 3rd quarter struggles hit Indiana again. Being outscored 21-12 in the 3rd quarter, the Pacers couldn’t recover in the 4th quarter. The Boston Celtics have the commanding 3-0 lead. With 7 players scoring in double-figures for Indiana, they still lost Game 3. When Game 4 took place, you knew the talent of the Boston Celtics was too much for the Indiana Pacers. Boston had 7 players in double-figures in the close out game led by Gordon Hayward with 20 points. Surprising sweep by the Boston Celtics over the Indiana Pacers.
Milwaukee dispatches of Detroit Swiftly
The best team in the NBA opened their playoffs against the last team to make the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks led by The Greek Freak, Giannis Anntetokounmpo went up against Blake Griffin and the Detroit Pistons. Beside Detroit fans, who thought this will be a good series? Nobody! You knew that Detroit was lucky to make the playoffs. In the regular season, the Bucks swept the Pistons with an average margin of victory of 14.75. That trend continued in the playoffs as well as the Bucks scoring at least 115 points against the Pistons.
In Game 1 and 2, both in Milwaukee, the Bucks dropped 120 points in both games, blowing out the Pistons. The Pistons didn’t have their star, Blake Griffin for those game, but there’s no way the Pistons are outmatched. In Game 3 in Detroit, Blake Griffin made his playoff debut and the result was still the same. The Bucks scored 119 and won by 16 points to take a commanding 3-0 lead. Detroit put in all on the court in Game 4. The Pistons even had a 11-points and led through halfway through the 3rd quarter. It didn’t matter because the Bucks went on to win by 23 points. The Bucks outscored the Pistons 71-42 in the 2nd half. Detroit Pistons swept by the Milwaukee Bucks.
It’s the preseason favorite to win the East against the best team in the league. The Boston Celtics against the Milwaukee Bucks. Boston was the preseason pick to win the East with LeBron James moving to the West Coast for the Los Angeles Lakers. Unfortunately, the Celtics haven’t lived up to expectations. The Bucks on the other hand, is not only the top-seed in the East, but the overall top-seed in the NBA.
Milwaukee and Boston faced off three times in the regular season. The Bucks won the last two meetings after the Celtics took the opening meeting in November. Giannis averaged 31 points and 10.7 rebounds per game against the Celtics. Kyrie Irving averaged 21.7 points and 6.3 assists per game against the Bucks. Both teams coming off sweeps in the opening round of the playoffs. Both teams should be rested and ready battle it out in the East Semis.
We all know what Giannis and Kyrie will do, but the matchup will be the supporting cast around both superstars. For Boston, it’s quite simply, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, the Celtics is the most talented team in the East. For the Bucks, Khris Middleton being an effective shooter/scorer with Giannis. Eric Bledsoe playing his game and not getting owned by the Celtics this year. The acquisitions of Nikola Mirotic and Ersan Ilyasova to provide lethal shooting off the bench.
X-factors and Series Prediction
The winner of this series will be determined by the supporting cast. Boston’s talented roster will need to like last year’s team respectively with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward now playing in these playoffs. Milwaukee just needs to continue showing why they are the best team NBA from start to finish. Gordon Hayward is the x-factor for the Celtics because if he can return to his Utah form, then it is a wrap for the East. Eric Bledsoe is the x-factor for the Bucks because Giannis is Giannis, Middleton is going to score, but Bledsoe needs to be him. Bledsoe can’t be looking at what happen last year against the Celtics and what Terry Rozier did to him. He must be focus on this series because Kyrie Irving is playing now.
This is a tough series to prediction. Boston wasn’t impressive when they swept the Indiana Pacers. Milwaukee was dominant in sweeping the Detroit Pistons. Boston is still the most talented team in the Eastern Conference, but Milwaukee has been the best team in the NBA. This series should go at least 6 games if not the distance. Only one team can advance to the East Finals.
Boston in 6
- Game 1: Sunday, April 28th in Milwaukee 1PM
- Game 2: Tuesday, April 30th in Milwaukee
- Game 3: Friday, May 3rd in Boston
- Game 4: Monday, May 6th in Boston
- Game 5: Wednesday, May 8th in Milwaukee
- Game 6: Friday, May 10th in Boston
- Game 7: Monday, May 13th in Milwaukee