The Milwaukee Bucks imposed their will one more time on the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Semifinals with, what seemed like an effortless, 116-91 win at home.
After closing out the series in just five games, the Bucks have punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference Finals, a round they haven’t been in since 2001.
That team was led by a 25-year-old Ray Allen.
The 2019 Bucks are led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, their 6’11”, 242-pound MVP candidate, who has been able to dominate the paint better than anyone since Shaquille O’Neal.
In Game 5, Antetokounmpo played just 31 minutes, but still managed a stat line of 20 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, two blocks and two steals. He also had a game-high +/- of +33 when he was on the court.
The story of Game 5 could be Antetokounmpo’s dominance again, or it could be the lack of fight from the Boston Celtics. The game could be summed up by a single possession.
Late in the third quarter, with their season on the line, the Celtics were down 16. The Bucks had possession and missed four consecutive shots followed by offensive rebounds. The Celtics’ body language and effort said it all, as they didn’t show any sort of fight to save their season.
Kyrie Irving struggled again with 15 points on 6 of 21 shooting and just one assist. His future as a Celtic is unclear, but the general consensus is that there is a good chance that Irving has played his last game in a Boston uniform.
Since Game 1, this Celtics team has taken a complete nose dive, inevitably resulting in elimination. However, this may not have been difficult to see coming.
With chemistry issues and inconsistency plaguing the regular season, it was unlikely that Boston would be able to turn things around with the flip of a switch (or even a reflective plane ride).
Moving forward, the Celtics may need to look at their personnel and decide how they want to run their offense. Brad Stevens’ offense relies heavily on ball movement and spreading the floor. So, it’s fair to question if other players can be successful around Irving’s style of play within Stevens’ scheme. The two style of plays don’t typically flow well together.
For as predictably inconsistent as the Celtics’ playoff performance was, the opposite can be said for Milwaukee. Predictable? Yes. Inconsistent? No.
The Bucks held the best record in the NBA throughout the regular season, while sporting the best scoring offense in the league. Mike Budenholzer has brought in an analytical-based system that is predicated on shooting threes and layups. Essentially, they play like the Rockets, but better. This is why they are perhaps the biggest threat to the Warriors.
They shoot the second most three-pointers in the league and are the third best team in terms of field goal percentage. Alongside the offense is perhaps the league’s best defense. The Bucks are the league’s best in defensive efficiency, allowing the lowest opponent field goal percentage.
With Malcolm Brogden returning, the Bucks pose a major threat to anyone they will play the rest of the season. At full health, the sky is the limit for this young Milwaukee team.
The Bucks will face off with either the Toronto Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals.