With their win over the Pacers on Sunday, the Celtics punched their ticket to the second round and a matchup with the Bucks. Milwaukee still needs to finish off Detroit, but the way that series has gone, it’s as close to a sure thing as possible that they’ll be moving on. Boston’s series win was anything but pretty; the teams exchanged long stretches with no scoring, and there were a lot of ugly turnovers. A lot of ugly turnovers.
Which brings us to the crux of the problem: if the Celtics turn the ball over against the Bucks at the same rate they did against Indiana, they are in big, big trouble. During the regular season, Boston averaged only 12.8 turnovers per game, the third-lowest figure in the league. Against Indiana in Round 1, they averaged 15 per game, and had 11 in the first half of Game 4 alone. They got away with it against a team who was missing their best player, but they certainly won’t against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the rest of the Bucks.
The Bucks are the best defensive team in the league by most metrics, and have perhaps the most dangerous transition player in the entire league with Giannis. All their defenders have the length to disrupt any passing lane and are ready to run at a moment’s notice. If Boston is careless with the ball, they won’t last long, no matter how much talent they have.
It’s going to be a hard series for both teams to win; the Bucks have an MVP candidate and the perfect team to support his talents, and the Celtics have three bonafide stars with a solid supporting cast. But if Boston can’t clean up the turnovers, this highly-anticipated series will be over faster than anyone imagined.