10 Numbers From The Series-Clinching Win
When the same player is the best scorer in the series, and the best defender in the series, and the best rebounder in the series, and the best passer in the series, and whatever else there is, that series is probably not going to last long.
That is what happens when you have Giannis. (Or George Hill?)
50–49. Normally you might compare a bench unit to a bench unit, but the Bucks have so thoroughly outplayed the Celtics bench throughout the series that it is more apt to compare Bucks reserves to Celtics starters. In that regard, Celtics starters (50) barely outscored Bucks backups (49), and the reserves got theirs much more efficiently. Hill outplayed Kyrie Irving (again), Ersan Ilyasova outplayed Al Horford, Malcolm Brogdon outplayed Jaylen Brown, and Pat Connaughton outplayed Jayson Tatum.
35. Giannis put up a +35 in 31 minutes. Sometimes a single-game differential does not tell you much. This is not one of those times.
0. On the other hand, exactly zero out of 13 Celtics who got minutes finished the game with a positive differential.
6. Back to Giannis, who directly set up six three-pointers out of his eight assists. He did not make a three-pointer himself, but from the beginning of the year Giannis has been a foremost reason why the Bucks are the second-most prolific three-point shooting team in the NBA. Plenty of beauties to highlight, but this one to Connaughton was perfectly traditional Giannis, drawing the entire team before placing a perfectly-weighted pass to a wide-open teammate. This one pushed the lead from 13 to 16 and it only got worse for the Celtics from there, and did it ever.
1:02. Late in the third quarter the Bucks held possession of the ball for over a full minute while collecting five straight offensive rebounds. They did not even end up scoring, but that was not the point.
11. Nikola Mirotic started the night by diving on the floor on the first defensive possession and followed that up with a nice little bank on the first offensive possession before knocking in a three on the next possession. He was more miss than hit the rest of the shooting, but he did hit the boards (11) and hustled and defended and spaced the court and how about that nifty around-the-back pass to Brogdon. Speaking of, with Brogdon back, hard to say how much longer Mirotic will be in the starting five, but he helped end this series.
11. While we are on the subject of 11 rebounds, Pat Connaughton also pulled in 11 rebounds in 27 minutes. He averaged 8.2 rebounds per game against the Celtics. After a rough Game 1, Connaughton delivered four straight strong performances.
4. And getting back to Brogdon, his warmup for the Eastern Conference Finals was encouraging, hitting half of his shots (4–8) along with four assists and zero turnovers.
4. The Bucks won all four quarters. It was a comprehensive, authoritative, dominant win (and series) against the preseason East favorite, against a team that was coming off a first round sweep.
16. After the 25-point series-clinching win, the Bucks have yet to play a close game through two rounds of the playoffs, and eight of those nine games are wins. They strung together four straight wins against the Celtics by an average margin of better than 16 points. And also about 16, they are halfway to 16 playoff wins…