5 crucial matchups in Milwaukee Bucks’ playoff series with Boston Celtics

Dec 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Boston Celtics: Grant Williams, Romeo Langford
Dec 13, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are officially set to meet in round two of the postseason after they each took care of business in their respective first round matchups.

Looking through the rosters for both teams, it is far from controversial to say that there will be no shortage of star power on display in this series. Though the Bucks will be without Khris Middleton as he battles a Grade 2 MCL sprain, they will still have Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and a solid supporting cast that took down the rivaling Chicago Bulls 4-1 in the first round. Meanwhile, it has been quite a turnaround for the Celtics as they rebounded from a poor start to the season and have oftentimes looked like the best team in basketball thanks to Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and many others. With an abundance of sheer star power on display, there are bound to be a handful of must-see matchups in this series, and here are five of them that could dictate the outcome.

The defense from Grant Williams and Al Horford on Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a pivotal matchup in Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

There is not one person in this series that will solely guard Giannis Antetokounmpo, as he will see his share of double and triple teams from Boston’s electrifying defense. Yet, based on prior games, two players that will likely spend considerable time against him are Grant Williams and Al Horford.

Williams guarded Antetokounmpo for 62.4 partial possession this season, the most among any Celtic, per NBA.com/stats. In their time matched up, the Greek Freak scored 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, with three of those misses coming from behind the arc. Although Williams is five inches shorter than Antetokounmpo, he is still a stout defender that has posed quite a challenge during not just their matchups but any matchup he is featured in. The Celtics will look to stick Williams on Antetokounmpo at times throughout this matchup, and it will be compelling to see who that strategy benefits more, given the latter’s size advantage.

When Williams is catching his breath, Horford will get some burn guarding Antetokounmpo, which has been a frequent matchup whenever these two teams have met over the years. They two saw one another in just one matchup this season, and Antetokounmpo got the upper hand as he tallied eight points on 4-of-5 shooting from 2-point range across 36 partial possessions. Horford will be tasked with guarding Antetokounmpo at times, and at 6-foot-9, he poses a more lengthy threat than the 6-foot-6 Williams. Boston will look to clog the paint to prevent Antetokounmpo from his typical onslaught close to the hoop, and Horford will be a crucial piece to that puzzle.

Antetokounmpo will have to take on even more responsibility than he is typically accustomed to with Middleton on the sidelines, and he will have his hands full with this reputable defense.