Thursday Night will feature one of the biggest games of the new NBA season thus far, a match up between the 7-0 Milwaukee Bucks against the 5-2 Boston Celtics. It’s a game of surprises, as both teams have surprised people in some way early this season.
The Bucks are red hot, the final undefeated team in the NBA. The fact that the Bucks are 7-0 is a shocker to a lot of folks. They haven’t played in a lot of close games either, all of their last six wins being by 7 points or more. Behind the front line of Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the strong rotation behind him, Milwaukee has appeared to be borderline unstoppable.
— John Vogel (@johndavogel) October 31, 2018
The Celtics were suppose to be the darling of the East, with the new departure of LeBron James to the Los Angeles Lakers of the Western Conference. So far this season, with the return of their two biggest stars (Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving), the team seems to be searching for their identity. The Celtics want to share the ball and make sure everyone gets involved, but so far no specific player is standing out.
The Celtics would love to give the Bucks their first loss.
The match-ups: Boston’s mismatches
Boston has a loaded team that will certainly pose a threat to Milwaukee’s perfect record. The Celtics, on paper, are really a better team than the Golden State Warriors because of their bench depth. Here are the mismatches that favor Boston in the lineup:
Kyrie Irving Vs Eric Bledsoe
The elite offense that the recently shaven Kyrie Irving brings to the Boston squad cannot, and will not, be matched by Eric Bledsoe. Irving will be matched on Bledsoe on defense, however I would expect Bledsoe to switch and cover someone else, like Jaylen Brown. Bledsoe is a subpar defender, not capable of defending the killer handles of Kyrie.
Irving isn’t a great defender either, but Bledsoe isn’t the type of scorer that Kyrie is. Bledsoe is having a decent season thus far, averaging 13.1 points per game, along side 6.9 assists. Irving hadn’t been on top of his game the first six games of the season, but shaved his head on Tuesday and dropped 31 points that night.
Yeah, it was just the hair.
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Morris looks like the 6th Man of the Year so far, averaging 14.4 points per game, shooting 49.3% from the floor, and working the backboard with his 7.4 rebounds per game. Morris is a pull-up three point shooter, a good defender and the clear leader on the bench.
Ersan Ilyasova has a similar skill set to Morris, but isn’t as athletic. He’s averaging 9.4 points per game and 6.9 boards. The two players are practically the same size (Morris is 6’9″, Ilyasova is 6’10”, both are 235 lbs). Morris is just more athletic, younger and has a more complete game. He will eat Ilyasova alive off of the bench.
The match-ups: Milwaukee’s mismatches
Milwaukee is 7-0 right now for a reason. They have a damn good lineup and a very good team. The chemistry that the team has with each other is astonishing at times, and the athleticism of Giannis Antetokounmpo, AKA The Greek Freak, you can truly #FearTheDeer. Let’s look at the Bucks mismatches.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Vs Jayson Tatum
I know that Jayson Tatum has looked like the best player on this Celtics squad this season so far, and that he’s a good defender and a rising star. I know he’s a great player.
If you don’t agree with me, you just haven’t watched Giannis play yet.
Giannis is so long, freakishly athletic, 6’11” and 222 lbs, plays physical and aggressive, and is a great scorer, I really don’t care what kind of a defender you are, you aren’t stopping this guy. Tatum will have his hands full with this man.
Giannis is averaging 25 points per game and 14.2 rebounds through 6 games. He missed the last game with a concussion, but has been cleared for Thursday night action. Tatum leads the team in scoring, averaging 16.6 points per contest along with 8.1 boards.
I think this game could go one of two ways. Either it will be very close and the two teams will battle for the lead all game, or the Bucks take control early and pull away.
Remember, this team just beat a healthy Toronto Raptors by 15 points without Giannis ever stepping on the court. It should still be a truly great game. Tune in with the rest of the country on TNT at 8:00 PM ET.