We got the first knockout game of a very interesting series on Friday night. Boston was in a great position to control the home court in Game 5, but because you know who, the Bucks stormed back in Game 4.

Giannis Antetokounmpo once again proved himself to be the best player in the game, scoring 40 points to help the Bucks win at home and advance to the Eastern Conference finals. He’s a marvel to watch because I’m not sure any other player has the same consistent combination of grace and power he has.

For Boston to take the series home for Game 7, they’ll have to find a way to control him. In Milwaukee’s three wins, Giannis had two 40-point games and a triple-double. Easier said than done, but Boston has a couple of data points where his production and impact are more “moderate” and they win, and sometimes it works.

The Celtics also need more product from their top star Jayson Tatum. He’s not at Giannis’ level, but he should be close, right? If he can prove that Boston should be competitive tonight. If not, this might be a little weird.

Game information

Boston Celtics (2-3) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (3-2)
Friday, May 13, 2022
7:30 PM ET
Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
ESPN

odds

Spread: Celtics +1.5 (-110), Bucks -1.5 (-110)
Total: 210.5
Moneyline: Celtics +110, Bucks -130

the best choice

Milwaukee – 1.5

I’m happy with the Suns’ performance Thursday night, thinking they’ll show some “near-championship” grit when they knock out the Mavericks on the road. That wasn’t the case as Luka Doncic forced Game 7 in Phoenix. That’s what Tatum and the Celtics hope for Friday night.

A big difference at this position is that the team that needs to win doesn’t have the best player on the field. Giannis and Luka are very different players, but they are the most physically dominant players in the game at the moment. Honestly, I’m not sure if this is close.

For this closing game, I expect Giannis to be the best player on the court again. It’s hardly a hot topic, but in the playoffs, if that’s the case, the Bucks are a tough team to fade. Especially with such a small number of people.

Not having forward Khris Middleton in this series was an adjustment, and I liked the momentum they brought in Game 6. Leading guard Jrue Holiday played the most complete game of his series in Boston’s Game 5, setting the stage for the game, including one of the biggest defensive plays of the late playoffs, to seal Milwaukee’s victory.

Even after more than a year of his stint with the Bucks, Holiday is still not the consistent force I imagined him to be. He’s more efficient at home, though, so I’m looking forward to another strong game as a supporting role.

Game 5 started the 4th quarter with a 3-pointer, Milwaukee made all six attempts and Boston was scoreless. It’s a pretty stark contrast — unlikely to be repeated, but I do think it’s pretty fair to expect the Bucks to play well at home. Guard Wesley Matthews shot 58 percent from beyond the arc in the playoffs, and the rest of the Bucks’ home and away marksmanship has changed markedly.

When the Bucks surround Giannis with shooters, they’re hard to beat, especially in the playoffs, where Giannis has proven he can handle it.

We don’t need them to dominate wins and screens. Almost any winning situation will cash out the bet, and that’s the way to go.

Boston is on the rise, but the Bucks won’t let it cost them.