The Celtics need to stop Khris Middleton in Game 2
Before the Boston Celtics' vs. Milwaukee Buck's series started, many were preaching, including myself, that the Celtics' key to victory would be having the series's second best player. The mindset was that the best player in the series would undoubtedly be Giannis Antetokounmpo, and while he would possibly be able to be slowed down, stopping him would be out of the question. Any consistent help would make the Bucks the series's top dog.
That put targets on the backs of Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton, two borderline top-tier players who are averaging 15.7 points, 2.3 rebounds, 3 assists and 20.1 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4 assists, respectively. If the Celtics could match up with them, then the Cs would be on their way to victory. If Bledsoe and Middleton weren't stopped, then the Cs would have trouble grabbing a W. It's a sound theory that should hold true throughout the first-round matchup.
But in the series's first game, nothing went as predicted. Middleton ended up being the game's second best player, heck, maybe even the game's best, after dropping 31 points on 12-of-20 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 from deep, 8 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals.
Kind of wild Khris Middleton played a shade more than 47 minutes in a game the Bucks lost by six, and was a +11. They just cratered in the short time without him.
And the reason for Boston's win is one that can't be counted on going forward.
While the Bucks had the game's two best players, who scored over thirty points each (Middleton and Antetokounmpo), the Celtics had the match's third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh best players, who each added at least 19 points-a-piece in a big Game 1 victory. The Celtics will need to play incredibly consistently for those type of efforts to come night in and night out, which certainly can't be relied upon from a rookie in his first playoffs, a second-year guy, and a third-year player.
And that's no shot against Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, or Terry Rozier. They're studs, and will make grandstand names for themselves across the league in some time, but that time may not be quite yet. If each of these three play as well throughout these playoffs as they did during Game 1, then sure, the time may be now, but it's surely not something that is set in stone and that Cs' fans should count on.
And let us not forget about Eric Bledsoe. He scored just 9 points on 33.3% shooting in Game 1, but he can't be counted out of the series. He's a guy who can do it all on the court, and he'll need to continuously be bested by Terry and Shane Larkin, who both played tight D on him in the series's first game.
So basically, this is a reiteration article. The Celtics need to contain Giannis's two side-kicks if they want to win this series, because again, we can't expect five players in green to score twenty points each. It's just unrealistic.
Tipoff for Game 2 is just under two-hours away. Both teams should have adjusted game plans heading into their second matchup. Let's go Celtics!