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The Read & React: what did the Celtics learn in a possible playoff preview in Milwaukee

To beat the Bucks, the Celtics must keep them out of the paint.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

After last night’s full schedule coupled with the Celtics’ loss in Milwaukee, the Bucks, Heat, and Wizards are all tied at 42-36. By virtue of the tie breaker, Boston would be matched up with Washington if the season ended today, but with a handful of games left, Milwaukee could still be their opponent at the start of the playoffs. Since the All Star break, Milwaukee owns the 8th best offense in the league. Last night’s 106-102 nail biter previewed just how Brad Stevens plans to attack the Bucks.

Milwaukee does not want to shoot from the perimeter. As Brian Scalabrine noted on the telecast, they’ve focused their offense on driving and attacking the rim after Jason Kidd was fired in January. Since the All Star break, the Bucks rank 24th in 3FGA’s despite hitting 37.5% from behind the arc and are 4th in the league in FGA’s inside the restricted area at 30.7 FGA’s per game.

One of the keys will be to keep the Bucks in the mid-range. In this age of analytics, teams are trying to avoid long-2’s. Despite that, Milwaukee still shoots a fair share of 15-footers at only a 38.6% clip. What makes the Bucks a match up nightmare is their length, but if it’s neutralized by keeping it away from the basket, the Celtics can slow them down.

Last night, they hit a lot of shots like this that the Celtics will live with. It’s unlikely they’ll shoot 50% between the paint and the three point line again and so consistently in a seven-game series. The alternative is much worse.

Milwaukee outscored the Celtics 66-54 in the paint, in large due to allowing Giannis Antetokounmpo easy lanes to the basket. He scored an efficient 29 points on 22 shots. This is a great microcosm of how the Celtics need to treat The Alphabet:

After getting burned on the previous play, Guerschon Yabusele took a few steps back and let Giannis take a mid-range jumper. Otherwise, it’s going to take multiple efforts on the defensive end to contain him:

It’s easier said than done, particularly when Boston will most likely be without their best perimeter defender in Marcus Smart and a switchy big like Daniel Theis. The night wasn’t a total loss. This GIF was born:

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