Nearly Five Months Later, C's-Bucks Has Finally Arrived
BOSTON – A premier matchup that has been on hold for nearly five months will finally be played tonight inside the NBA bubble, as the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks will square off at 6:30 p.m. on national television.
On March 11, the Celtics were in Milwaukee preparing for their matchup with the Bucks the following night when the NBA suddenly went on hiatus due to the novel coronavirus. Now, 142 days later, these two conference contenders will finally have the chance to go at it.
“I woke up really excited this morning, happy to play an NBA game again,” said Daniel Theis, who spoke after Boston’s morning shootaround in Florida. “We’ll see how it goes tonight, but I think everybody on our team is excited and ready to play.”
Theis and the Celtics have looked at this contest as a great opportunity ever since their season restart schedule was announced June 26. Boston is anxious to see where it stacks up against a Bucks team that is the top seed in the East and boasts the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Speaking of whom, Antetokounmpo will rightfully be at the center of Boston’s attention upon tip-off tonight. The Greek Freak, who is averaging career bests of 29.6 points and 13.7 rebounds per game, is a player who demands multiple defenders on nearly every possession.
“Especially with Giannis, we’ve got to pack the paint,” Theis said. “He’s great going downhill, so it’s not just one guy who can guard him. It’s got to be everybody. Got to be long in the lanes.”
The problem with that tactic is that it can be a double-edged sword at times, seeing as Milwaukee surrounds Antetokounmpo with a ton of skill.
“Everybody’s got to be long and get out to shooters too,” added Theis. “They put guys like Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, Kyle Korver around him so Giannis has got space to drive.”
Fortunately for Boston, it will have the opportunity to execute this game plan with a full roster of players. The C’s will have their full starting lineup available for only the 17th time this season when they tip off tonight. The numbers of instances in which they’ve had their full team available is even lower.
“I don’t know how many games we’ve played with the full roster. Probably less than 10 the whole season,” Theis said. “It’s going to be interesting.”
That, Mr. Theis, is an understatement.
There’s a reason why this game was scheduled for this time, on this day. Thursday night, the league highlighted the Clippers-Lakers rivalry in primetime. Tonight, it will highlight a rivalry between two of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference who have been battling for supremacy for three years now.
The NBA community has waited nearly five months for this game to be played. Tonight, it will finally happen.