Who should start for the Milwaukee Bucks against Boston Celtics?

MIAMI, FL - MAY 29 (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FL - MAY 29 (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images) /

Yes, in general, this question is pretty obvious. The Milwaukee Bucks have four starters essentially set in stone: Brook Lopez, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Wesley Matthews, and Jrue Holiday.

Those four give the Bucks the best defensive versatility and allow head coach Mike Budenholzer to bring more offense off the bench in Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, and Grayson Allen. However, with Khris Middleton set to miss at least Game 1, there’s a hole in the starting five that one of the three bench scorers can fill.

Will Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, or Grayson Allen start Game 1 for the Milwaukee Bucks?

Against the Chicago Bulls, Budenholzer turned to Portis to bring even more size to the starting unit and it worked very well. Portis averaged over 15 points and 14 rebounds while shooting nearly 37 percent from 3 in his three starts against the Bulls.

But will they have the same advantage by starting Portis against the Boston Celtics as well? That remains to be seen.

The biggest concern right away is that if you start Portis, he’s going to have to guard Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown for some stretches and that’s… going to be interesting. He surely wouldn’t get the one-on-one assignment (that will likely be Matthews and Holiday) but he’ll get picked on in switches and pick-and-rolls.

He got limited minutes defending against the Celtics’ star wings this season and he held up better than you’d expect. Tatum and Brown combined to go 8-of-21 with three turnovers and one shooting foul against Portis, according to NBA.com/stats.

That isn’t all in isolation with some of those coming from contested shots at the rim, but it’s still a nice sign that they didn’t absolutely run Portis off the floor.

Defending on switches and guarding in space is something that Portis has admitted to working on this season so that he can be on the floor in the playoffs in big moments. We’ll see if that work has paid off in this series regardless of if he starts or not.

Connaughton is probably the best option defensively even though he’s smaller than both Tatum and Brown. He would allow the Bucks to remain versatile and switch more often against those two, which was huge in their Christmas Day comeback win over the Celtics.

Allen is in a similar boat to Portis but as the smaller version. He’ll get picked on in that lineup even though he’s a solid enough defender, he just happens to be the weakest of the bunch.

Offensively, all three of them bring much-needed shooting and spacing with Middleton out. Once Allen got a more expanded role with the three-time All-Star out, he responded by shooting a silly 70 percent on nearly seven 3s per game in the final three games of the series.

Connaughton made just five 3s in the first four games of the Bulls series but closed it out going 6-of-9 from deep and he shot nearly 40 percent from 3 on nearly six attempts a night in the regular season (including 38 percent on 21 attempts against the Celtics).

Portis also brings a physical interior element and creates an interesting matchup for the Celtics’ league-best defense. If Robert Williams is healthy enough to start, I’m curious who they match him up against to allow him to roam around and block shots.

I’m willing to bet they dare Lopez or Matthews to beat them so Williams can help on Antetokounmpo drives against Al Horford.

If I had to bet, I’d say that it will be Portis who gets the initial nod.

I want to see how he holds up against Tatum and Brown first to see if that matchup will be that big of a problem. He brings more size than Connaughton and Allen which is beneficial on both ends. All three will get picked on in isolation by the two stars but give me the size of Portis to at least make things a little more difficult inside alongside Antetokounmpo and Lopez.

Regardless, it won’t be an easy series for the defending champs without their second-leading scorer for a good chunk (if not all) of this series. The good news is that they have three role players who got good experience in expanded roles this season and will be ready to star in their roles.

Next. 3 Milwaukee Bucks’ X-factors in playoff matchup versus Boston Celtics. dark

We’ll have our answer for who the Milwaukee Bucks start for Game 1 at noon CT tomorrow.