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: Bobby Portis, Boston Celtics: Payton Pritchard, Robert Williams III
Dec 25, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Robert Williams III’s defense on Brook Lopez/Bobby Portis will be a major key as the Milwaukee Bucks take on the Boston Celtics

Robert Williams III emerged as one of the best defensive centers in the league this season, and he will face some reputable names in round two. The 24-year-old will see his share of time guarding both Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis, and it will be fascinating to see who gets the upper hand, as this particular matchup will have a major impact on this second round series.

Given that he missed a considerable portion of the year due to back surgery, Lopez did not get to spend too much time against Williams. Portis, on the other hand, did, as he was guarded by him for 72.7 partial possessions, the second-most out of any player during the regular season. When being defended by the defensive ace, Portis looked solid as he scored 19 points on 8-of-15 field goal shooting, with six of those misses coming from long range. The Bucks will need more of this from Portis and a solid effort from Lopez on the offensive end when defended by Williams.

The biggest key for Lopez and Portis in this series will be their 3-point shooting. The pair will get a surplus of open perimeter looks, and they must knock them down with some consistency so it will force Williams out on the perimeter rather than allowing him to stay close to the hoop. This would free up space for Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and others to attack inside, which could be a difference-maker in this series. These two had their share of struggles in round one with 3-point shooting as Lopez shot 33.3 percent and Portis shot 36 percent in those five contests. The Bucks need these two big men to knock down their 3-pointers when defended by Williams, and it will be interesting to see the matchup play out.

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Be sure to catch these matchups in Game 1 this Sunday at 12:00 p.m. CST on ABC.