Numbers preview: Milwaukee Bucks (1) vs. Boston Celtics (4)

NBA.com Global on Apr 28, 2019 03:51 PM
Numbers preview: Bucks (1) vs. Celtics (4)
FILE - Milwaukee, WI - APRIL 22: Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks dunks the ball against the Boston Celtics in Game Four of Round One of the 2018 NBA Playoffs on April 22, 2018 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.(Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com

The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the Eastern Conference in the regular season, finishing with both the league's best record and it's best point differential. But the playoffs are different than the regular season, and after sweeping a hobbled opponent in the first round, the Bucks now face a team with much more postseason experience.

The Boston Celtics were supposed to be where the Bucks are, holding the No. 1 seed and favored to reach The Finals. They also swept through the first round, but with a little more drama than Milwaukee went through.

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Milwaukee has the MVP favorite and has built a successful system around him. Boston has a group that reached Game 7 of the conference finals last year and a star that hit one of the biggest shots in NBA history. Both teams have shown that they can get it done on both ends of the floor.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Milwaukee Bucks (60-22, 4-0)

First round: Beat Detroit in four games.
Pace: 101.3 (5)
OffRtg: 120.2 (1)
DefRtg: 96.8 (3)
NetRtg: +23.5 (1)

Bucks postseason notes - General:

1. Won a playoff series for the first time since 2001. That had been the league's longest active drought.

2. Outscored the Pistons by 23.5 points per 100 possessions, the sixth best mark for any team in any series in the 23 years for which we have play-by-play data (338 total series). None of the four games were within five points in the last five minutes.

3. Outscored the Pistons by 52.5 points per 100 possessions in the third quarter, the best mark for any team in any quarter in the first round.

4. Rank 15th in time of possession, controlling the ball for just 19.8 minutes per game.

Bucks postseason notes - Offense:

1. Were the most improved offensive team in the first round, scoring 6.7 more points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season (when they ranked fourth offensively). The 120.2 per 100 they scored were also 11.6 more than Detroit allowed in the regular season, and that was the biggest jump in defensive efficiency.

2. Rank seventh in the playoffs in ball movement (314 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and second in player movement (11.5 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession).

3. Have averaged 26 transition possessions per game, most in the postseason.

4. Have shot 40.2 percent on catch-and-shoot three-pointers, second best in the postseason.

Bucks postseason notes - Defense:

1. The Pistons averaged 56.8 drives per game, fourth most in the first round. But they shot just 35 percent and drew fouls just 4.0 percent of the time on drives. Those were both the lowest marks in the first round.

2. Detroit shot 45 percent in the restricted area and 42 percent in the paint overall. Both were the worst marks in the first round.

3. Allowed Detroit to score 117.5 points per 100 possessions in the second quarter, but just 89.7 per 100 otherwise.

Bucks postseason notes - Lineups:

1. Starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brown, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - outscored the Pistons by 39.5 points per 100 possessions, the third best mark among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes in the playoffs.

2. The Bucks have outscored their opponents by 38.7 per 100 with Brook Lopez on the floor. That is the best on-court NetRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more.

3. The Bucks have allowed just 84.7 points per 100 possessions with George Hill on the floor. That is the lowest on-court DefRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more.

Bucks postseason notes - Individuals:

1. Giannis Antetokounmpo leads the postseason in both fast break points per game (7.3) and ranks second in points in the paint per game (15.5).

2. Antetokounmpo has taken 23.9 percent of his shots from three-point range, up from 16.3 percent in the regular season. That's the second biggest increase among players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs.

3. Antetokounmpo has a free throw rate of 61 attempts per 100 shots from the field, highest among players with at least 50 postseason field goal attempts. He has shot 63 percent from the line, the worst mark among players who have averaged at least six free throw attempts per game.

4. Antetokounmpo has grabbed 18.6 percent of available rebounds while he's been on the floor. That's the fourth highest rate among 125 players who have averaged at least 15 minutes in three playoff games or more.

5. Sterling Brown had two first-round games with six or more assists. He's recorded six or more assists just once in 112 career regular-season games.

6. Eric Bledsoe has shot 20-for-24 (83 percent) in the restricted area, the second best mark among players with at least 20 restricted-area attempts in the playoffs. Antetokounmpo (29-for-39) has the third best mark.

7. Bledsoe eight blocks, two steals and just four personal fouls. That ratio of steals + blocks per personal foul (2.5) is the highest among players who have played at least 50 minutes in the postseason. Pat Connaughton (2.3) has the second highest ratio and is one of two players that have played at least 50 minutes and have more blocks than personal fouls.

8. The other is Brook Lopez, who has averaged a postseason-high 3.5 blocks per game. Opponents have shot 42 percent at the rim when Lopez has been there to protect it. That's the second best rim protection mark among players who have defended at least five shots at the rim per game. Antetokounmpo (21 percent) has the best mark among players who have defended at least four per game.

9. Khris Middleton has shot 8-for-12 on pull-up three-pointers, the best mark among players who have attempted at least 10. He's shot just 3-for-12 on catch-and-shoot threes.

Boston Celtics (49-33, 4-0)

First round: Beat Indiana in four games.
Pace: 95.8 (11)
OffRtg: 103.7 (12)
DefRtg: 95.8 (1)
NetRtg: +7.8 (5)

Celtics postseason notes - General:

1. Three of their wins over Indiana were within five points in the last five minutes.

2. Trailed at halftime in three of the four games. Were outscored by 5.2 points per 100 possessions in the first half and outscored the Pacers by 21.2 in the second half.

Celtics postseason notes - Offense:

1. Worst first-round offense (103.7 points scored per 100 possessions) among teams that have advanced to the conference semifinals.

2. Scored just 96.3 points per 100 possessions in their two home games, but 110.9 in two games in Indiana.

3. Rank eighth in the playoffs in ball movement (313 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and 13th in player movement (10.7 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession).

4. Rank 14th in field goal percentage in the paint (48.5 percent), but third in effective field goal percentage on shots from outside the paint (54.0 percent).

Celtics postseason notes - Defense:

1. Were the most improved defensive team in the first round, allowing 11.2 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did in the regular season (when they ranked sixth defensively). The 95.8 per 100 they allowed were also 13.5 fewer than Indiana scored in the regular season, and that was the biggest drop-off in offensive efficiency. Had the best defensive game of the playoffs thus far (74 points allowed on 96 possessions).

2. Indiana averaged 11.8 roll man possessions, most in the postseason. But they scored just 0.89 points per possession on them, down from 1.03 in the regular season.

3. Held Indiana to just 0.52 points per possession, the postseason's lowest mark, on isolations.

Celtics postseason notes - Lineups:

1. Lineup of Irving, Brown, Tatum, Horford and Baynes is one of five (and the only one among teams that haven't been eliminated) that have scored less than a point per possession in 35 minutes or more. It has been the best defensive rebounding lineup in that group.

2. The Celtics have scored just 87.7 points per 100 possessions with Baynes on the floor. That is the fourth lowest on-court OffRtg mark among players (and lowest among those that have advanced) that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more. They've scored 115.7 points per 100 possessions in 96 minutes with Horford on the floor without Baynes.

3. The Celtics have allowed just 84.8 points per 100 possessions with Terry Rozier on the floor. That is the second lowest on-court DefRtg mark among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes in three postseason games or more.

Celtics postseason notes - Individuals:

1. Jaylen Brown has an effective field goal percentage of 69.0 percent, the fifth best mark among players with at least 25 postseason field goal attempts and up from 52.5 percent in the regular season.

2. Gordon Hayward has averaged 31.1 minutes per game off the bench, most among reserves in the playoffs.

3. Hayward was a perfect 4-for-4 on shots with the game within five points in the last five minutes of the fourth quarter against Indiana. He also has the most free throw attempts in the postseason (11) without a miss.

4. Hayward leads the postseason with 1.8 secondary assists per game.

5. Al Horford has averaged 10.3 rebounds per game, up from 6.7 in the regular season. That's the biggest jump among 163 players who have played in at least three playoff games after playing in at least 40 regular season games. Jaylen Brown (from 4.2 to 6.8) has seen the fourth biggest jump.

6. Kyrie Irving has averaged 6.0 isolation possessions per game, third most in the playoffs. The 1.08 points per possession he's scored on those ranks second among players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game.

7. Irving has shot just 39 percent in the paint and has taken only 31 percent of his shots in the paint. Those marks are down from 55 percent and 42 percent in the regular season.

8. Marcus Morris has taken only eight percent (3-of-41) of his shots in the restricted area. That's the fifth lowest rate among 111 players with at least 25 shots in the playoffs and down from 21 percent in the regular season.

9. Jayson Tatum has scored just 0.45 points per possession (shooting 4-for-18) on isolations, the second worst mark among players who have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game. He's shot 25-for-39 (64 percent otherwise).

Regular season matchup

Bucks won, 2-1 (1-0 in Milwaukee)
Nov. 1 (Nov. 2, PHL time) @ Boston - Celtics 117, Bucks 113
Dec. 21 (Dec. 22, PHL time) @ Boston - Bucks 120, Celtics 107
Feb. 21 (Feb. 22, PHL time) @ Milwaukee - Bucks 98, Celtics 97

Pace: 101.0 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes
Milwaukee OffRtg: 109.5 (10th vs. Boston)
Boston OffRtg: 105.6 (13th vs. Milwaukee)

Matchup notes:

1. Aron Baynes played in the Celtics' win and missed their two losses. Jaylen Brown missed the first game, both Al Horford and Marcus Morris missed the second game (which Semi Ojeleye started at center), and Gordon Hayward missed the third game. Horford and Baynes played less than a minute together against the Bucks. (They were a minus-4 in 57 minutes together in last year's first round series.)

2. Nikola Mirotic was only with the Bucks for the third meeting, but played two games against Boston with the Pelicans and scored 25 points (shooting 6-for-11 from three-point range) against the Celtics on Nov. 26 (Nov. 27, PHL time).

3. The Bucks outscored the Celtics, 62-22, in the paint in the Nov. 1 (Nov. 2 PHL time) game. But the Celtics won with a franchise-record 24 three-pointers.

4. The Feb. 21 (Feb. 22, PHL time) game was one of just five games this season in which the Bucks scored less than point per possession, and the only one of those five games that they won.

5. The Bucks won the second quarter in all three games, scoring 139 points per 100 possessions. They lost the third quarter in all three, scoring just 92 per 100.

6. The Celtics outscored the Bucks by 23 points in 69 minutes with Al Horford on the floor and were outscored by 33 points in 75 minutes with Horford off the floor. The bigger difference was on defense, where they were 25.3 points per 100 possessions better with Horford on the floor.

7. The Bucks' regular starting lineup - Bledsoe, Brogdon, Middleton, Antetokounmpo and Lopez - was outscored by 21 points in its 36 minutes, registering more turnovers (17) than assists (15) and shooting just 4-for-20 from three-point range.

8. The 31.0 points Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged were the most for any Eastern Conference player that played at least two games against Boston. He had 46 points in the restricted area. No other player in the season series had more than 16.

9. Antetokounmpo recorded assists on just 13.7 percent of his possessions. That was his fifth lowest mark against any opponent this season.

10. Kyrie Irving shot 8-for-29 between the restricted area and the three-point line. Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart combined to shoot 2-for-22 from three-point range.

11. Bledsoe is one of three players who defended Irving for more than 100 possessions this season. Irving shot more than usual and the Celtics scored more efficiently than usual on those possessions where Bledsoe was the defender.

12. Horford was the primary defender on Antetokounmpo in the two games that Horford played, but Ojeleye defended Antetokounmpo for almost as many total possessions (40) as Horford (41) over the regular season series. The Celtics were more successful defensively on the possessions with Horford defending Antetokounmpo. The opposite was true in last year's playoff series.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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