The series between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics heads to Milwaukee at Game 3 Saturday with the series tied 1-1. The Bucks looked great in Game One and stole their court, but Boston responded with a convincing 23-point defeat in Game Two to gain some confidence as the series moved to Milwaukee. It looks like this is going to be a challenging, close and exciting series.
Giannis Antetokounmpo wasn’t bad by any means, but he wasn’t up to his usual self against the strong Celtics defense that led the league in defensive rankings this year. Here are a few things that need to happen in order for him to get back on track in this series.
Number 1 – Giannis Antetokounmpo must transform when paint enters
Giannis averages per game still good in this series – 26 points, 11 rebounds and 9.5 assists per game – but his efficiency has been very poor. Antetokounmpo only shoots 38.5 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three to two games. This field goal percentage will be the worst in a qualifying series since his first qualifying series in 2015.
Boston defended him well and made things difficult, but some of that is due to Giannis not turning out like he normally does. From within the paint, Antetokounmpo only shoots 43.2 percent over those first two games, compared to 72.6 percent in the first round against Chicago and 66.8 percent in the regular season, according to NBA.com/stats.
Giannis obviously does the most damage in the paint and is closer to the basket. Boston has been physical and sometimes barred, but when he gets to his positions, he should take advantage. One of the most dominant paint players in the game simply couldn’t shoot in 40 seconds from a low percentage of that area.
Antetokounmpo was below the usual percentage of his field goal from the restricted area right at the edge, but his biggest weakness now is shots coming in from the “centre” area. It’s a poor 2-for-18 shot from 5-14 feet over the first two games of the series. He should be able to drop more of these picks to start his attack.
The only thing that would help is if Giannis could find more mismatches and attack them. He only shoots 35 per cent against his central defenders, Al Horford and Grant Williams. Against Robert Williams III, Jason Tatum and Jaylene Brown, though, he’s shooting 64.2 percent. Forcing the switch and having other defenders besides Al Horford and Grant Williams on him would help Giannis’ attack a lot.