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Milwaukee Bucks Game 1 Preview: April 15 at Boston Celtics

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Wizards coach Scott Brooks

Though seeded second in the Eastern Conference behind the Toronto Raptors and boasting one of the top defenses in the National Basketball Association, the Celtics were dealt a major blow last week when it was announced their star point guard and team leader Kyrie Irving would not be available for the playoffs because of a knee injury he sustained last month. "The way that they were playing me, it was forcing me to be closer to the basket, which is fine with me". While their coaching may be iffy, the on-court play of superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo has not. Despite this, they could never fully get it going this season and ended with a relatively mediocre, at least given the talent they boast, 44-38 record. By the midway point of the quarter, Milwaukee already had outscored the Celtics 24-4.

Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis where all lost due to injury.

This Bucks team will feel like they've unfinished playoff business, as their last taste of post-season action came in a spirited, but heartbreaking defeat to the Toronto Raptors in Game 6 last season. When the lights are brightest, they're at their best. - As incredible a player as the Greek Freak is, his perimeter shooting is still a clear Achilles heel.

He also didn't rule out a return earlier than Game 7, assuming his check-ups go well. So far, not even the Celtics and their league-best defensive rating have truly had an answer.

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Who do the Celtics go to in the clutch? For most of this year, it was Kyrie Irving's team. Jaylen Brown (20), and Jayson Tatum (19), also tallied double figures as Boston earned a huge Game 1 win.

The Celtics can beat these teams and advance to the Eastern Conference finals, but it will require everyone performing at a high playoff level and postseason intensity that many of these players just haven't experienced yet.

The ability to move past mistakes is important, but so is the presence of a veteran like Horford to take control when mental mistakes strike. Horford nearly always makes the smart basketball play on both ends of the floor.

The Celtics thus survived a pair of explosive performances from Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton - the former with 35 points and 13 rebounds, and the latter with 31 points, including five 3-pointers. During that stretch, six different Celtics registered points.

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