On Wednesday, Oct. 8th, the Milwaukee Bucks will open their season with an away game against the Boston Celtics. This will be the second game of a back-to-back for the Boston Celtics. Both teams are on track to dethrone the Cleveland Cavaliers as the best team in the Eastern Conference and would like to do so sooner rather than later.
Here are some things to look out for in game one:
Who guards Giannis Antetokounmpo?
The Celtics are in win-now mode and have their sights set on beating LeBron James and the Cavs to face the Golden Stat Warriors in the finals. Stopping LeBron will be no easy task and guarding another elite small forward in The Greak Freak will be good practice for the team.
In the offseason, the Celtics traded away their two best defenders – Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder – and replaced them with a little more size in Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris. Along with Marcus Smart, they will be the best wing defenders the Celtics have to throw at elite wing players. Watch the defensive rotation on Gianny on Wednesday and see what Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has in mind for the season.
Who guards Kyrie Irving?
The east has its fair share of great point guards; Kyrie Irving, John Wall, Kyle Lowry, Kemba Walker, Goran Dragic, Dennis Schroder and Elfrid Payton will all be nuisances for any team that faces them in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
With a point guard rotation of sophomore Malcolm Brogdon and Matthew Dellavedova, the Bucks will have a hard time defending lead guards all season. Matthew Dellavedova was supposed to be the solution on defense when the Bucks signed him, but unfortunately his defense has dropped off in a major way since leaving the Cavs.
Although he is a plus defender, the 6’8 Khris Middleton will not be able to stay in front of Irving for a whole game. The Bucks’ defensive rotations against point guards will be an interesting development all season and Wednesday will be the first test of what Bucks coach Jason Kidd has in mind.
Who will win the battle for rebounds?
Last season, the Boston Celtics ranked 26th in the league in total team rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks ranked 29th. Both teams are awful at rebounding the ball and if either team wants to be a contender, they have to improve.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led his team in rebounding last season, while no Bucks post player averaged above seven rebounds a game. For the Celtics, Al Horford led his team in rebounds per game last season with only 6.8. Winning the battle for rebounds greatly increases your chance of victory, so keep an eye out on which team rebounds at a higher rate.