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The Way That The Celtics Went Into Milwaukee And Completely Massacred The Bucks Was Basketball Heaven

Patrick McDermott. Getty Images.

The Boston Celtics have played the Milwaukee Bucks 3 different times this season. Here is how things went

Game 1: The Celtics regulars played the Bucks regulars on Christmas and the Celtics won by 21 at home

Game 2: The Celtics bench played the Bucks regulars and took them to OT on the road

Game 3: The Celtics regulars played the Bucks regulars, this time with Khris Middleton, and won by 41 on the road

So while winning by 41 points isn't exactly comm– well wait a minute. Let me rephrase that.

So while winning by 41 points isn't exactly common for teams not named the Boston Celtics

Kicking the shit out of the Bucks certainly seems to be. Dating back to the playoffs, the Celts have now won 4 of 5 against Milwaukee including 2 games in their own building (and was damn close to 3). Their average margin of victory this year against the Bucks is 31 points. Call me crazy, but that seems pretty good!

Of course, we'll hear about how the Bucks were on a B2B in this game. I'm supposed to give a fuck? Why is it my problem the Bucks left their best players in to statpad against the Pacers? That was a 20+ point game with tons of time in the 4th quarter, they could have sat guys. Instead they played Jrue and Giannis so Holiday could get his 50 and Giannis his video game numbers. Last time I checked, they sat Middleton so he would be ready for Boston. So sorry, in the NBA you have to play B2Bs. I don't remember anyone giving the Celts a pass when they lost to UTA on a back to back without 3 starters did they?

You got your ass whooped. Again. That's just the reality.

Maybe the Celts find a way to regain the #1 seed, maybe the don't. Unfortunately through their own play, they do not control their own destiny. Fine. If you're telling me the Celts have to win on the road against a good team, I say OK no problem. The Celts are now 10-2 against the top 3 seeds from each conference, they have the best record in the NBA against teams .500 or better (30-14), and they have the most road wins in the NBA (25).

Last night told us a few things. First, they are not afraid of MIL whatsoever. They can win at the Garden in Boston or at the Garden Midwest in Milwaukee because basketball is about matchups, and through 3 games we've learned that unless you have elite wing defenders, you have little chance against the Celtics' firepower. You'll never believe this, but Jae Crowder, Khris Middleton, Joe Ingles, Wes Matthews, and Grayson Allen had some trouble defensively. 

As I always say, perspective is important. There is still work to do, but I can't imagine anyone feeling less confident about the Celts heading into the playoffs after a game like this. Is it annoying they fuck around against dogshit teams? You betcha. But it feels great to know that when it matters most, the Celts can lock in and go to a level that no team in the NBA can match, even the mighty unbeatable Bucks. 

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Alright, we have a lot to get to, let's dive in.

The Good

- The Celtics may have been on the road in MIL last night, but this was another home game for Jayson Tatum. In fact, I'm not above suggesting that he owns this building

I guess it makes sense that the Celts wore their home whites in this game now that I think about it, Fiserv Forum is basically their home away from home. They've won their last 3 out of 4 in that building, and this is a Bucks team that was 30-7 at home heading into last night.

The reason? They have nobody who can stop Jayson Tatum. Not Giannis, not Jrue, pick a name and it's still the same result. How does 40/8/1 on 12-18 (8-10) shooting in just 30 minutes sound to you? Tatum was a team best +36, and I'm pretty sure we witnessed him touch God in this game. We got a full 48 locked in performance and remember, he's the one who called the shot after the Wizard's loss

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Giphy Images.

There was an MVP candidate who was the best player on the floor for both teams last night, and they did not play for the Milwaukee Bucks. Watching this game had to give Bucks fans Game 6 flashbacks, because it was essentially the same performance. Not only did everything Tatum throw up go in, but the Bucks had absolutely zero ideas on how to stop him. They tried everything and none of it mattered. At some point, these are not just one-off performances, they become a trend. 

In a game like this, your best players need to show up and carry. Especially on the road. The beauty of the Boston Celtics is they don't just have one of these type of players, they have two.

- Enter Jaylen Brown. Sorry, I misspoke. Enter All NBA Jaylen Brown

Everything I just said about Tatum is also true when it comes to Jaylen. The Bucks cannot stay with either of these guys. How many times did we see them attack old as shit Jae Crowder and Joe Ingles? Those two do not have the lateral quickness or the strength to stay in front, and that's a problem given how the Celtics operate. If you can't stop their wings, you're cooked.

So on one hand you have Tatum burying everything from deep, and then on the other you have Jaylen going for 30/5/5 on 13-20 (3-5) shooting in his 31 minutes. Jaylen looked right into the eyes of Brook Lopez (a DPOY candidate) and Giannis (all time defender) and he said excuse me while I live in the paint and destroy you both

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As a reminder, this is the Celtics #2 offensive option

While all the scoring from both of these guys was awesome and provided us all with an out-of-body experience, you know what I might love the most? They combined for 1 TO. I don't want to say they both played a perfect game, but shit was it pretty fucking close. Add in their strong work defensively, and this was a statement. The Bucks may have Giannis, but they don't have the Jays.

- Speaking of Giannis, wild what happens when the football player doesn't just get to run into people and be bailed out by the officials huh? Crazy what things look like when he has to earn his points offensively through actual basketball huh? 

I'm ready to declare that no team in the NBA defends Giannis as well as the Celtics. That doesn't mean he won't have games when he drops 30, but the numbers don't lie. 

For a player as dominant as Giannis is, what other team is consistently holding him to these types of performances? He took just 3 FTA last night because the Celts have the blueprint. Their defense was basically flawless when it came to making life hard on Giannis. That's the key, you just have to make things tough without fouling. He finished 11-27 in this game and everything at the rim was contested.

What makes this all possible is the fact that the Celts can show Giannis multiple looks. Sometimes it was Marcus Smart by himself with no help. Other times they built a wall and hedged in with their wing defenders while still having the ability to close out hard and prevent 3PA. Sometimes it was Al Horford doing what Al Horford does.

The point is, the Celts know that the Giannis spin is coming. They know how to adapt. Brad built his roster full of versatile defenders specifically for an approach like this. There is no weakness to attack on this roster like there is with the Bucks, and all 5 of their defenders can guard multiple positions at a high level. 

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It felt like we saw a playoff whistle last night, and it's not surprising that without the calls, Giannis' offensive game looked entirely different.

- I guess this Joe guy can coach after all huh? Imagine that! Quick check on Mazzulla Ball if that's OK. This time against the wagon and supposed best team in the NBA with 3 elite defenders in Lopez/Giannis/Holiday

Yup, still rules! 

The Bucks continue to allow the Celts to take open 3s, and that is just not a recipe for success. You basically have to just pray they miss, and we're at the point now where those nights aren't all too common. The Celts now move to 35-3 when they score at least 120 points, and when they are moving the ball like this while also taking care of the ball, opposing teams have no shot. 

If the Celts are going to make their 3s and not turn the ball over, how are you supposed to stop them?

- This game told me that as long as the Celts don't play dumb as shit, they are the best basketball team on the planet. Now it's always an adventure to find out if they'll play dumb as shit on any given night, but when they don't? My god are they tough.

- You may not have noticed, but the Celts are back to having pre-injury Marcus Smart on the floor. Since the Cavs loss on 3/6, he;s been playing his role to perfection. He finished this game with 10/4/8, he did not turn it over, and was a +35 in his minutes.

In fact, over these last 10 games Smart is taking under 9 FGA a night, shooting 44/37% and has a 5:2 assist to turnover ratio. He's passing/defending first and the results speak for themselves (8-2). I don't know how many times I have to say it, but guard play remains one of if not the most important aspect of this team. When the three guards fill their role it changes everything. 

- While we had mostly a quiet night for Derrick, the same cannot be said about Brogdon. Smart did his thing as the starter, then Brogdon came in and did his thing with the second unit

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Again, look at the foot speed. Nobody on this Bucks roster/second unit is staying in front of Brogdon. I'm supposed to believe that's magically going to change? This was a guy who was a +41 in his 27 minutes! A nice little 14/3/5 with 4 steals on 6-13 shooting, what that line doesn't tell you is that both Brogdon and White started pretty slow offensively (1-9). The Celts were still up 22.

Considering Brogdon didn't even hit a 3 in this game (0-4), I could make the case that he could play even better. That's pretty scary.

- From time to time I hear this narrative that Robert Williams is unplayable in a Bucks series. I'm sorry, what?

Rob was the best defensive big man in this game. Period. Not debatable. He didn't miss a shot (3-3), owned the glass in his minutes, and had 4x the blocks of the entire Bucks team. If this type of performance doesn't make it crystal clear to you what type of impact Rob makes and how he raises the ceiling of this team, then I'm not sure anything will.

It's not just the blocks, it's the fact that players have to think about Rob. When Jrue Holiday got in the paint, he learned that things were much different against Rob than it was against the Pacers. Giannis learned that Rob can meet him at the rim no problem. Add in his 4 OREBs, and even when the Celts miss a shot Rob is still there to turn that into a positive possession.

A fully healthy Rob is playable in any series/any matchup. He's perfect.

- Al Horford is a gift from God. That is all that needs to be said.

- I imagine getting blown out by 41 points at home is pretty embarrassing. Almost equally embarrassing is trying to headbutt someone, that person eats the headbutt with no issue, and then laughs directly right in your face

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God I love Blake Griffin. It wasn't just the laugh in real time, but also this

and the fact that Blake immediately went down and made a 3PM that made this entire sequence so incredible. What a Celtic.

- Celts won the rebounding battle 47-45, they won the points in the paint battle 54-36, they won the fastbreak battle 12-8. The Celts just aren't going to lose if they own all facets of a game like they did last night. 

- We'd be lying if we tried to say it wasn't a relief that the Celts didn't blow this lead. It was entirely possible the Celts come out of the break slow, and their big lead gets cut in half. Instead, they extended it to 40+. That tells me they were truly locked in and understood that they had to play a full 48. 

The Bad

- There certainly isn't a lot to choose from, but I suppose the defensive rebounding/2nd chance points was a bit of an issue. Part of that is a result from their approach as the Celts stayed tight to guys on the perimeter. But allowing 15 OREB and losing the 2nd chance points battle 17-8 is something to keep an eye on. This team is usually very good on the defensive glass, especially when Rob is active, so that might have to be cleaned up a little bit if these two teams meet again.

When you play the Bucks, you have to end possessions clean. You're playing with fire allowing them to get 2 or 3 shots on a single trip, because they have the potential to be as lethal as any team in the league. This may have been an off night for them offensively due to the Celts defense, but it won't always be like that. We've seen it. So whether it's not getting a rebound on a Giannis drive or not boxing out and giving up OREBs on missed 3PA, the Celts need to make sure they are ready. 

15 OREB is too many, regardless of what the final score says.

- I know it didn't matter, but I can't sit here and tell you I wasn't triggered while watching Goran Dragic go 3-3 from deep in his 7 minutes. What is it with this guy and his inability to miss shots when playing the Celtics? It could be MIA, BKN, MIL, like enough already we get it. 

Is this me stretching things because the Celts were fucking dominant? Who's to say.

The Ugly

- I dunno guys, the Celtics won by 41 points. They played nearly perfect basketball for 48 mintues. What could even fit in this section? Maybe that Joe played Rob nearly 3 minutes in the 4th quarter and Derrick 6? There was no need for that and all it did was make me nervous as hell. That's not even really a big deal, but we can't skip this section until the Celts win 5 in a row, so that's what we're going to roll with.

Joe, please, in these blowouts do not play a single player in the top 8 of your rotation. The bench can handle a 40 point lead in 12 minutes, I am certain of it.

So now we move on to the Jazz tonight. You can't win last night and then drop the game tonight, because then what's the point. The Celts need to win out if they want the #1 seed, and considering what happened the last time these two teams played I'm interested to see how they come out. While a B2B, the minutes weren't crazy for anyone and we are at the point of the year where you cannot screw around. Last night the Celst showed us what they look like when they hit their ceiling, so now I would like to see them stay there.

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Love and Trust.