There is something so wonderfully juxtaposed about the Celtics-Bucks series. The only thing we need is for them to wear different colors. Shame they’re both based on green. But it’s a minor complaint.
While the Celtics have their own stars and an MVP candidate, they’re seen as more of a cohesive unit, with their constant switching on defense and precision movement and ball distribution on offense. The Bucks, while capable of team ball, are looked at as Giannis, and how far Giannis can carry them, especially with Khris Middleton on the shelf.
In the Bucks’ two wins in the series, Giannis has been some sort of kaiju. A triple-double in Game 1, going for 42 in Game 3. It’s not that he’s been bad in the other two games, but in all four he’s looked utterly exhausted by the end. Giannis had to chuck up 32 shots to get his 34 points last night while playing 41 minutes. Jrue Holiday took 22 shots for his 16 points, only making five of them, the team going -23 while he was on the floor.
Facing up to various defenders all night, whether it’s trying to drive through Al Horford or around Jayson Tatum or whoever else, and having to constantly help and recover on the other end…it’s proven too much twice for the Bucks, and Giannis especially. He had just six points in the fourth quarter of last night’s loss, and was -17 in that frame. Holiday didn’t make a shot. Brook Lopez was the Bucks’ biggest weapon in the 4th, and that’s a pretty blunt instrument. And the C’s erupted for 43 points in the quarter. Tatum and Horford combined to go 11-for-12 from the field in the final frame.
The series is tied 2-2, and it appears like it’ll be mostly a competition of whether or not Giannis can fight off exhaustion with brilliance, or at least which one will outweigh the other and how many times. The Bucks, and Giannis, were able to outrun the wheezing lungs in Games 1 and 3, but even in that Game 3 win they definitely crawled to the finish line. In Games 2 and 4, they never got there before falling to their knees and tapping out. Not really an option from here on out.