The Boston Celtics go to the Milwaukee Bucks for Game 3 of the best of 7 series.
When it was learned that Kyrie Irving would not be playing in the series, the Milwaukee Bucks had to have been thrilled with their playoff draw. What they didn’t count on was a guy by the name of Terry Rozier, who has stepped in taken the first two games by storm as he fills in for Irving.
In each of the first two games, Rozier has scored 23 points, and a combination of solid play from the Celtics and careless play from the Bucks have put Milwaukee in a situation where they could be facing an 0-3 deficit if they don’t get it turned around. The two will face off again on Friday night when the Celtics (2-0) travel to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to face the Bucks (0-2) with a 9:30 pm ET tipoff.
The spread comes in at the Boston Celtics +6 and the Milwaukee Bucks -6. The over/under for total points scored is set at 203.
Without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward (who has been out the whole season), it is tough to see the Celtics going very deep in the playoffs, but don’t tell the Celtics that. They have come out strong through the first two games and have gotten a balanced scoring attack led by Jaylen Brown (25 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game), Terry Rozier (23 points, 3.5 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game), Al Horford (20 points, 8.5 rebounds, 4 assists per game) and Marcus Morris (19.5 points, 6 rebounds per game).
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Rozier has to be seen as one of the main reasons that they are at this point, though. With the loss of Irving, Rozier has stepped up in a big way these playoffs. Not only is he filling up the stat sheet, but he is also getting into the head of Bucks point guard, Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe has had two very poor games to start off the postseason, and seems to especially struggle when Rozier is guarding him. Over the course of the two games, Bledsoe is 4 of 13 from the field with Rozier in his face. If Rozier can keep up the solid play in Irving’s absence, the Celtics will likely walk through this series pretty easily.
Through two games of this series, Giannis Antetokounmpo has played like an absolute superstar. He is averaging 32.5 points per game on 63% shooting from the field. Additionally, he is averaging 11 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. Khris Middleton has also played spectacularly as he is averaging 28 points, 6 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The problem, though, is that has been about it for the Bucks.
Bledsoe, who averaged almost 18 points per game during the regular season, has only averaged a little over 10 in each of the first two games of this series. Additionally, Jabari Parker has been pretty much nonexistent in the playoffs thus far. After averaging 19.5 points per game over the final six games of the regular season, he has only played a combined 25 minutes over the course of the first two games of the playoffs.
For the Bucks to have a chance at climbing out of the 0-2 hole that they are in, they are going to need to get help from someone else on the roster outside of Antetokounmpo and Middleton.
Also, to have a chance of getting out of the 0-2 deficit, they are going to have to start taking care of the ball. In the first two games of this series, the Bucks have combined for 35 turnovers. In the postseason, where every possession matters, you are not going to have much success if you are turning it over an average of 17.5 times per game. To win game three, they are certainly going to have to sharpen up.
I actually think that straight up the Bucks are probably going to prevail in this one; however, I think the balanced scoring of the Celtics keeps them in this one until the end. Also, over the last ten games when facing Milwaukee, the Celtics are 8-2 against the spread and 3-0 in their last 3 matchups this season. Like I said, straight up I like the Bucks, but I will take the Celtics at +6 in this one. My Pick: Boston Celtics +6