The goal for Boston will be to lean into their league-best defense to take control of the game, ensuring that it's played in their style and at their pace.
After starting the season as the league's most risky 3-point shooter, a regression to the mean was justifiably expected, but he has maintained a mark of 43.4% from long range, an unbelievable number for a first-year player. At times this season, they've looked like a team that could be challenging for the Eastern Conference crown in a year or two. Irving was leading the Celtics, averaging 24.4 ppg, which was 2.4 points above his career average.
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There was no bigger game this year for both the Pacers and breakout star Victor Oladipo than the win over the Cavaliers back on December 8, a game in which Oladipo signified that his outstanding first month was not a fluke, finishing with 33 points, eight rebounds and five assists while shooting 6-for-13 from the 3-point line. They were 32-24 on February 13 after having won nine of 11. Entering the playoffs, Horford has most of the experience, but Morris is the player who can create his own shot and also step up as a vocal leader. Since that time, they are just 12-14. They jumped out to 22-4, and though they have remained a great team throughout the year, they haven't been able to regain the level of play they showed in those first 26 games. The Celtics are an extremely young team and first-round pick Jayson Tatum will have a huge load to carry. With everyone out, this could be more of a coin toss.
On paper the Celts shouldn't even be in the postseason, much less hosting a first-round series with home court advantage. In many ways, that game foreshadowed a season full of injuries for the stars of the National Basketball Association. In addition, Jaylen Brown has been dominant this season and will be an important piece for the Celtics in the postseason. Horford's 18.8 points per game against Milwaukee this season is significantly lower than Antetokounmpo, but they come at a ridiculous 70.5% shooting from the floor.
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With the Bucks, the issues is that they're the opposite of the Celtics: they don't have team chemistry. The Bucks lack the scoring depth to beat good teams consistently, and you really can't ask for better play from Antetokounmpo and Middleton. He averaged just 19.0 points per game in April, significantly down from the 27.5 he averaged the month before.
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