The Boston Celtics don't have Gordon Hayward or Kyrie Irving, but they still have the No. 1 defense in the league. So they can't be counted out in what looks like the most wide open Eastern Conference we've seen in a few years.
The Milwaukee Bucks didn't take much of a step forward in Giannis Antetokounmpo's fifth season (a disjointed campaign in which they never won or lost more than four games in a row), mostly because they haven't figured out how to take advantage of their length defensively. Antetokounmpo is one of the best players in the league, but has yet to win a playoff series.
A series against a shorthanded 2 seed is an opportunity to do that. But going in, the Celtics should have a much better idea of who they are and how to win.
Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the 2-7 series in the East, with links to let you dive in and explore more. Game 1 is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on TNT.
Boston Celtics (55-27)
Pace: 98.2 (23)
OffRtg: 105.2 (18)
DefRtg: 101.5 (1)
NetRtg: +3.7 (6)
Celtics team notes:
- Went 14-8 (6-5 against playoff teams) in games without Kyrie Irving, with the Celtics and their opponents combining to score just 102 points per 100 possessions in the 22 games.
- Projected starting lineup - Terry Rozier, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Aron Baynes - has played just 115 minutes together, but allowed just 92 points per 100 possessions in those minutes.
- Outscored their opponents by 8.3 points per 100 possessions in 861 total minutes with Horford on the floor without Irving, but were outscored by 2.2 points per 100 possessions with neither on the floor.
- Ranked second in 3-point percentage and were one of two teams with two players (Al Horford and Jayson Tatum) in the top 10 in 3-point percentage among individuals.
- Led the league in opponent 3-point percentage, allowing their opponents to just less than 34 percent from beyond the arc. This was the 11th straight season in which the Celtics ranked in the top five in opponent 3-point percentage.
Celtics individual notes:
- The Celtics allowed just 97.0 points per 100 possessions with Aron Baynes on the floor. That was the lowest on-court DefRtg among players who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 or more games.
- Jaylen Brown took 39 percent of his 3-pointers from the corners, the fourth highest rate among 150 players with at least 200 total 3-point attempts.
- Al Horford shot 43 percent from 3-point range, up from 36 percent last season. That was the second biggest jump in 3-point percentage among 100 players who attempted at least 200 threes each season.
- Greg Monroe was one of three players to record a triple-double off the bench.
- Semi Ojeleye had a usage rate of just 9.1 percent, lowest among players who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more.
- Terry Rozier shot 32 percent on drives, the worst mark among 154 players who attempted at least 100 shots on drives.
- Jayson Tatum shot 30-for-51 (59 percent) on clutch shots, the best mark among players who attempted at least 50.
- Tatum shot 54 percent on corner 3-pointers, the best mark among players who have attempted at least 50.
Milwaukee Bucks (44-38)
Pace: 98.5 (20)
OffRtg: 107.8 (7)
DefRtg: 107.1 (17)
NetRtg: +0.7 (15)
Bucks team notes:
- 19.4 percent of offensive possessions, the second highest rate in the league, were in transition.
- Only 12 percent of opponent possessions, the lowest rate in the league, were in transition, though the 1.14 points per possession they allowed in transition was the third highest rate.
- Allowed a league high 38.9 points per game in the restricted area. 37 percent of opponent shots, the highest rate in the league, came from the restricted area.
- Aggregate bench NetRtg of minus-3.9 ranked 22nd in the league and worst among playoff teams.
- Before Jabari Parker's season debut on Feb. 2, they were 14.2 points per 100 possessions better with Giannis Antetokounmpo on the floor (plus-4.8) than they were with him off the floor (minus-9.4). After Parker's debut, they were only 2.0 points per 100 possessions better with Antetokounmpo on the floor (plus-1.4) than they were with him off the floor (minus-0.6).
- Played Antetokounmpo, Parker and Khris Middleton together for just 110 total minutes over 28 games in which all three were available.
Bucks individual notes:
- Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 13.3 points per game in the restricted area, most in the last 15 years (since Shaquille O'Neal averaged 14.6 in 2002-03).
- Antetokounmpo has an effective field goal percentage of 37.2 percent from outside the paint, the third lowest mark among 207 players who attempted at least 200 total shots from the outside.
- Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoeranked third and sixth in clutch effective field goal percentage among 45 players who attempted at least 50 clutch shots.
- Bledsoe shot 25 percent on pull-up 3-pointers, the third worst mark among players who attempted at least 100.
- Khris Middleton ranked second in the league with 530 field goal attempts from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line) and ranked fourth in mid-range field goal percentage (49.3 percent) among 57 players with at least 200 attempts.
- Middleton was one of seven players to average at least 5 catch-and-shoot points per game and 5 pull-up points per game.
- Tony Snell took 39 percent of his 3-pointers from the corners, the fifth highest rate among 150 players with at least 200 total 3-point attempts.
- Jason Terry had the second lowest usage rate (10.0 percent) among players who averaged at least 15 minutes in 40 games or more.
Regular season matchup
Season series: Tied 2-2 (1-1 in Boston)
Oct. 18 @ Boston - Bucks 108, Celtics 100
Oct. 26 @ Milwaukee - Celtics 96, Bucks 89
Dec. 4 @ Boston - Celtics 111, Bucks 100
Apr. 3 @ Milwaukee - Bucks 108, Celtics 100
- Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart all missed the final game for Boston. That was the only meeting in which Jabari Parker played for Milwaukee.
- Three of the four games (all except Boston's Dec. 4 win) were within five points in the last five minutes. The Celtics shot 4-for-14 (including 0-for-6 from 3-point range) on clutch shots.
- The Bucks grabbed just 13 percent of available offensive rebounds, the lowest rate for any Boston opponent this season.
- Antetokounmpo averaged 33.5 points per game, most among Eastern Conference players against the Celtics. He was one of three players to score at least 40 points in a game against Boston, scoring 40 in the Bucks' loss on Dec. 4.
- Al Horford was Antetokounmpo's primary defender (94 of 223 possessions). Though he didn't quite keep Antetokounmpo in check, the Celtics were a plus-33 in 139 minutes with Horford on the floor and were outscored by 27 points in 53 minutes with Horford on the bench.
- Horford took only seven shots (less than half his regular rate) on the 93 possessions in which Antetokounmpo was defending him, but the Celtics scored efficiently on those possessions. Overall, Horford shot 31-for-44 and his effective field goal percentage of 77 percent was the third highest mark among players who attempted at least 25 shots against the Bucks this season.
- Eric Bledsoe was only with the Bucks for the last two meetings. He shot 14-for-18 in the two games, with seven of his 14 baskets coming in the restricted area.
- Thon Maker started the first two meetings, came off the bench for the third one, and didn't play in the fourth. He was a minus-26 in 36 total minutes against the Celtics.
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