Boston, MA– The reason that the Boston Celtics succeeded in the first game of their second round series against the Milwaukee Bucks was because of their ability to absolutely shut down Giannis Antetokounmpo, the league's likely MVP. Many, including myself, were thoroughly surprised by the Bucks' inability to recognize that this would be the Celtics' plan of attack in the series, but I am much less surprised to see that the Bucks have readily altered course for the series and have again unleashed Giannis to his full potential. And it's currently wreaking havoc on Boston's hopes for a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Giannis showed the Celtics exactly why he is the frontrunner for MVP with his clutch plays down the stretch to bolster his numbers to an impressive 32 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists, which were all numbers that led the game. George Hill also added 21 points and it was his combined efforts with Giannis that eventually buried the Celtics in the second half, as the Bucks kept the game consistently out of reach. Milwaukee finished the game with a 123-116 lead and a one game lead in the series, headed into game four.
As for the Celtics, Kyrie Irving led the team with 29 points and six assists and Jayson Tatum led the way in rebounds with 11. Giannis clearly outmatched each player every step of the way and Kyrie's impressive rebound from a moribund game two performance was simply not enough.
Despite the missed opportunities for the Celtics, their mission is now clear. A win in game four at home is a must to avoid going three games to one. Two games to one is already a worrisome-enough deficit against the league's best team in the 2018-19 season, but no Celtics fan should give up hope yet. Few teams were as impeccable at home as the Celtics were this year and they are going to have prove whether or not they have what it takes and they are going to have to do so fast. Game four is on Monday, May 6. The Celtics better bring their A game.