After all the top-to-bottom performances throughout the regular season, including a final game where they were one of the worst defenses in the league, the Milwaukee Bucks dominated defensively through six playoff games.
Sure, they roughed up the Chicago Bulls, but we expected them to. Yes, they kept them at an offensive rating of 94.4 (more than eight points below their regular season rating) but these are the Bulls, a team that has won less than a handful of games against top teams. of the league. They just took care of business.
So how would they fare against a Boston Celtics team that had the league’s best offensive rating after the All-Star break at 122.6? In short, damn good after a game!
How the Milwaukee Bucks defense propelled them to a road win in Game 1
Despite all the attention the Celtics defense has received since the start of 2022 and for the way they slowed down Kevin Durant in the first round, they found themselves facing a championship caliber defense and couldn’t get out of mud on offense.
Neither team shot particularly well around the rim, but the Bucks’ sheer refusal to allow anything even near the basket was fun to watch.
Per Cleaning the Glass, Boston attempted 31 shots from the rim or from floating distance compared to Milwaukee‘s 44. The Bucks shot 38.6% on those shots while the Celtics were limited to 32.2%. Again, it was tough sledding inside for both teams, but the Bucks denied those shots as a whole were a big part of it.
According to Kirk Goldsberry and ESPN Stats & Info, the Celtics have shot 2 of 23 on contested 2-point shots, which is the second-lowest percentage of contested 2-point field goals in a playoff game since they started tracking in 2014! That’s a damn good defense!
The front-row Bucks duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez had an absolutely dominant defensive day, from traditional box scoring stats to fancy tracking stats. As for regular box scoring numbers, they combined five blocks, one steal, and 16 defensive boards.
As for tracking data, they combined to hold Boston 1-of-15 on 2-point shooting.
In the first round, the Celtics shot 68.5% from the restricted area. In Game 1, they shot 45.5%.
The Bucks challenged the Celtics to hit enough 3s to beat them and they couldn’t do it.
If you watched any of the Celtics’ first-round series, you would have seen how physical they were guarding Durant and Kyrie Irving. They would try to stop them from getting in their place, take them off the ball, and generally try to disturb them whenever they could.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, physicality is the Bucks’ calling card and he seemed to catch the Celtics off guard with just How? ‘Or’ What physical the Bucks are. To be clear, Boston was still very physical, but that didn’t shock or surprise Milwaukee. They’ve been through a championship run, they know how physical those games can be.
Give the Celtics credit, their defense also showed in Game 1 of this series. Robert Williams was a threat to the rim defense and made life difficult for every Buck who dared to enter his territory. In the end, however, the Bucks defense was better and they threw the first punch of this series. Expect the Celtics to fight back, so it’s up to the Bucks to absorb this blow.
The Milwaukee Bucks can also steal Game 2 on the road tomorrow at 6:00 p.m. CT.