Bucks-Celtics was one of the best and most hotly contested series in last year’s NBA playoffs, and Bucks-Celtics II (The Kyriedux?) promises to be, if nothing else, an opportunity for Super Giannis to triumphantly hurl the team that eliminated him last season into a dumpster. Which is what makes today’s news extremely irritating:
Dammit. It’s annoying, I guess, to treat either half of a playoff bracket like a coronation ceremony, but the single coolest thing that can come out of the East playoffs this season is a fire-breathing Giannis Antetokounmpo at the very peak of his powers, to face whichever largely irritating team wins the eventual Rockets-Warriors series. Disgusting to think of the Celtics having even so minor-seeming a leg up on interrupting that process.
And, anyway, Brogdon isn’t quit so minor a character in this story as he might seem. First of all, it’s worth remembering it was Brogdon who hit the first huge clutch bucket in the epic finish of last year’s Game 1. More importantly, Brogdon was a member of Milwaukee’s most used and very best high-use lineup during the regular season (along with Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton, Giannis, and Brook Lopez). That same lineup sans Brogdon and with current fill-in starter Sterling Brown playing the off-guard was a whopping 19 points per hundred possessions worse by net rating, and not over a small sample size—the Bledsoe-Brown-Middleton-Antetokounmpo-Lopez lineup played the second most total minutes of any Bucks lineup, and finished with a minus-12.7 net rating. The Bucks are vastly worse with Brogdon not in the starting lineup, is what I’m saying.
The good news is, the Bucks pounded the bejeezus out of the hopeless Pistons in the first round, with Brown playing Brogdon’s minutes. That may not be super relevant—the Pistons were a pretty poor playoff team even before Blake Griffin missed the first two games of the series and then played the last two on a knee that required near-immediate offseason surgery. The Celtics are deep and feisty and talented and well-coached and (usually) cohesive, and are in a whole different category from those sad-ass Pistons. A personnel loss that might not mean much against a hobbled eighth seed could loom large going forward.
It’s of course entirely possible that even without Brogdon Giannis will devour the Celtics. The Bucks went 2–1 against Boston during the regular season, including a convincing 13-point win in Boston, albeit without Al Horford around to do various Al Horford things. Still, in order for this series to meet the minimum requirements of fairness, and to ensure a satisfying and legitimate conclusion, it is only right that the Celtics should be forced to smash Jayson Tatum’s foot with a sledgehammer or gouge out one of Jaylen Brown’s eyeballs.