Facing a defanged Bucks squad
Milwaukee is currently dealing with a dastardly case of the injury bug. Three of their four best players — Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle), Khris Middleton (positive COVID test), and Brook Lopez (back) — are sidelined. Because of this, a win tonight wouldn’t feel quite as rewarding as it would to best a fully-healthy Bucks squad. Make no mistake, Milwaukee is deep even without their straws who stir the offense, but the Celtics are no doubt working with more talent tonight.
Bobby Portis loves to play the Celtics
Portis has bounced around the league, playing for four organizations across his seven-year career. But regardless of what team he’s on or role he’s in, Portis always seems to light up the Celtics on the scoreboard. And he was hotter than fish grease in the first quarter.
Less than eight minutes into the contest, Portis was already up to ten points on 5-for-6 shooting. In particular, he torched a cornucopia of great defenders — such as Rob Williams, Al Horford, and even Marcus Smart —from the mid-range. Portis doesn’t lack confidence. If the Celtics aren’t careful, he could go off for 20+ points without breaking a sweat. Keeping Portis in check should be a top priority for Boston in the second half.
The Dennis Schröder game?
Jaylen Brown’s absence has opened up additional scoring opportunities for players up and down the roster. Perhaps no one has taken advantage of the moment more than Schröder; the German floor general is averaging 36.5 minutes and 18.5 shot attempts per game over his last two. Schröder has a penchant for making head-scratching plays from time to time, but when he has it going offensively, he’s maybe the third-best scorer on the roster behind Tatum and Brown. He backed up this sentiment through his first-half play.
Schröder (14 points) entered the halftime locker room tied with Tatum as the leading scorer. He flashed his three-level scoring chops by weaving to the cup, pulling up from the in-between area, and even knocking down two standstill threes. Schröder’s season-high in points this season is 23 — he’s well on pace to eclipse this mark. Keep an eye on his point total throughout the last two quarters.