The Milwaukee Bucks had a bit of a dream season, finishing with the league's best record, holding the likely MVP of the NBA, and topping it off with a first-round sweep over the Pistons.
Their aspirations are high, and they should be. Still, achieving their goal will not come easy, and the Eastern semis have them face-to-face with their most daunting challenge yet -- a seven-game series over the Kyrie-led Celtics.
ESPN's Zach Lowe explained why this matchup will pose an especially difficult challenge for Giannis and Milwaukee.
Milwaukee is hell-bent on taking away shots at the rim and free throws, but Boston is already terrible at producing either. The Celtics ranked dead last in free throw rate and 27th in the share of shots that came at the basket. Most teams lose something against Milwaukee. Boston is already playing how Milwaukee wants its opponents to play.
That should help the Celtics. They are designed to take the sorts of shots Milwaukee concedes. The trends turned even more extreme in three regular-season matchups; Boston's attempts near the basket plummeted, and the Celtics redistributed almost all of them into non-corner 3s, per Cleaning The Glass.
All season long, the Celtics have been a mess of inconsistency. Come playoff time, however, they have the experience, firepower, and wisdom to make them a legitimate threat in the East, especially against a team like the Bucks, who have almost zero playoff experience.
The series starts on Sunday, where Boston will try to steal home court from the Bucks in Milwaukee. It will be interesting to see how both teams respond to top-level competition following an easy first-round.