3 most important players for the Milwaukee Bucks against Boston Celtics

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 25: (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - DECEMBER 25: (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis. Boston Celtics: Marcus Smart
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 25: (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images) /

Bobby Portis’ size and shooting could swing the series for the Milwaukee Bucks

I’m very interested in what head coach Mike Budenholzer does with his starting lineup to begin this series. After Middleton went out against the Bulls, he sized up and added Portis to the starting five which gave the Bulls fits.

They didn’t have the size to match up with Portis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Brook Lopez. The Celtics, on the other hand, have Al Horford, Robert Williams, and Daniel Theis in the frontcourt and generally don’t have anyone in their rotation (outside of maybe Payton Pritchard) who they wouldn’t be comfortable having to size up against one of the three Bucks bigs.

If Milwaukee wants to add another wing-type player to the starting five, then Pat Connaughton will likely be tabbed there but expect to see Portis get the first crack at it.

Williams didn’t start either game that he’s played since returning from that knee injury, sitting around 15 minutes or so off the bench, but when he does start to play more, having Portis in the starting lineup creates a very interesting dynamic for Boston to defend.

They typically like to have Williams matched up against the opposing team’s weakest shooter so he can roam around to block shots (like Antetokounmpo), but the weakest shooter for the Bucks would be Antetokounmpo.

Williams was matched up against Portis a lot this season (nearly 15 minutes) and Portis went 5-of-6 on 2s but also 3-of-9 from 3 so they may just dare Portis to beat them from deep so Williams can help against Antetokounmpo.

If Portis is in the starting lineup, it will be a huge test for everything that the Bucks worked on through the regular season in trying to make him as a starter work. They had Portis switch a lot (he has said it was one of his biggest goals for this season) and also play two-to-the-ball in pick-and-roll which was great until they did it too much.

Tatum and Brown will pick on Portis a lot in isolation so it’ll be on Portis to keep them in front and defend without fouling. Tatum went 5-of-11 from the field in the regular season against Portis with two turnovers and no shooting fouls drawn. Brown was 3-of-10 with a turnover and a shooting foul drawn. If that keeps up, Portis will get all the minutes he can handle in this series.