Celtics vs. Bucks: Brook Lopez plays superhero, and Milwaukee's defense scores a round-one knockdown

If you are aiming to entirely challenge single-game plus-minus numbers, look no more than Brook Lopez’s minus-10 line in the Milwaukee Bucks’ Game 1 triumph over the Boston Celtics on Sunday. Lopez was a superhero. He was the center of a big Bucks defense, figuratively and actually, that secured the paint like club bouncers. 

Lopez completed with 3 blocks and 10 rebounds. 

Those numbers are deceiving also. 

Lopez impacted a lot more shots than the 3 he obstructed. Along with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Bobby Portis (who made up the Bucks’ skyscraper-ish beginning frontline), Lopez focused on paint defense in normal drop style, for which he has incredible feel, understanding specifically when to stop providing ground, plant his flag and contest with his 7-foot-6 wingspan. Giannis was similarly enormous as not simply a rim protector, however a total shot contester. It felt as if the Celtics were attempting to shoot through a field of windmills. 

Under Mike Budenholzer, the Bucks have actually long wanted to yield 3-pointers if it indicates managing the paint. The approach has actually come under examination in the past, however not all 3-point efforts are developed equivalent. Sure, if your huge is deep dropping on choice and rolls versus a fantastic pull-up shooter, and you’re quiting walk-in 3 after walk-in 3, that’s not going to work. But that definitely wasn’t taking place on Sunday. 

Late in the very first quarter, the Bucks increase their border ball pressure, which’s where it begins. Lopez isn’t needing to fend off penetrators who have not needed to work to make it through the very first line of security. This isn’t a Rudy Gobert circumstance in Utah. Milwaukee’s border men do their task. Jrue Holiday, Javon Carter and Pat Connaughton drew out all the air in between them and Boston’s ball-handlers. They contested screens and the wings were on high alert to sink down into driving lanes. If need be, Giannis and Portis would flat out leave their shooter — Al Horford a couple of times — to sign up with the interior swarm. 

After all that, then you encounter Lopez. The outcome: Milwaukee just quit 20 points in the paint for the whole video game. In the 2nd quarter, the Celtics just left 6 shots from inside the arc. 

Even when the Celtics did reach the paint, they were refraining from doing so on their terms. At finest they had perhaps a half action on the protector tracking hard over the screen with a turning huge in front of them; at worst they ran out control, off balance and hardly hanging on to the ball. Boston desires tidy drive and kicks, however Milwaukee was stoning them to such a degree that the kick-out passes were more like bailout passes. 

Jump stop. Pump phony. Pivot. Damn, I’m still surrounded by trees? Oh well, I think I’ll lose consciousness. 

By then the Bucks had time to turn back to shooters and contest. The Celtics were required to take 50 3-pointers, and you might rely on one hand the variety of those that were tidy, in rhythm and from a shooter that in fact issues Milwaukee. Derrick White, Marcus Smart, and even Horford, Grant Williams or Payton Pritchard are most likely not going to make adequate 3-pointers to beat Milwaukee over a seven-game series. 

Boston requirements Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown to do that work. Milwaukee understands that. Tatum drew the super star attention, as he should, dealing with periodic doubles however regularly just seeing 2 or 3 aid protectors within an action of his driving lanes while handling unrelenting ball pressure. He completed with 21 points however just shot 6 of 18 from the field. 

We did see the effect of Tatum’s gravity with some open try to find Horford and Grant Williams, and those are shots Boston is going to need to tear down as the series moves on. 

Brown, on the other hand, was dreadful. There’s no other method to state it. He was reluctant. Sloppy. He over-penetrated when there was no place to go. He completed with 12 points on 4-of-13 shooting, consisting of 3 of 9 from 3, with 7 turnovers. 

Moving forward, this is a Brown series for Boston. He’s not visiting the exact same type of attention that Tatum does, and if he can better beat his protector and enter into the paint with utilize and real control of the ball, that can cause kick passes to Tatum, who can then assault versus a turning defense instead of a set one. 

Boston has its own swarming defense, and we saw a lot of it in Game 1. The turnovers injured and permitted Milwaukee to go out in shift, which provided a lot of open threes, however Antetokounmpo was managed about along with he can be as a downhill assailant; Horford, in specific, was great defensively. 

So Boston has factors for optimism. Tatum and Brown can shoot, and play, better. Clean up the unforced mistakes. This is most likely going to be a long battle. But there’s no doubt Lopez and the Milwaukee defense scored a round-one knockdown. 

Keep your eye on Chris Paddack

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