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Celtics Will Face Milwaukee Bucks In Second Round Of NBA Playoffs

BOSTON (CBS) -- It's official: It will be the Celtics and the Bucks in Round 2 of the NBA Playoffs.

The defending champion Bucks advanced Wednesday night with a 116-100 win over the Chicago Bulls in Game 5 of their first-round matchup. So after dealing with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the first round, the Celtics now get to deal with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the second round. Antetokounmpo led the way in for the Bucks in Wednesday's clincher, scoring 33 points off 11-for-15 shooting while going 11-for-14 at the free throw line.

Based on how the Boston defense was able to fluster Durant over four games, this upcoming series should be one heck of a battle to get to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Boston will have home court advantage against Milwaukee with Game 1 set for Sunday afternoon at TD Garden. The Bucks could have owned home court for the series, but they tanked the final game of the regular season to avoid a potential showdown with the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. The Celtics won their final game of the season to earn the No. 2 seed in the East, and then swept Brooklyn to advance.

The Celtics and the Bucks split their four games during the regular season, each winning two on their home floors. Boston notched a 122-113 overtime win back on Nov. 12, though that game lacked a lot of the star power that both teams bring to the table. Jaylen Brown was out for the Celtics, while Giannis was a late scratch for the Bucks. Milwaukee was also without Khris Middleton (COVID-19 protocols) and Brook Lopez (back) for the game. Dennis Schroder led the way for Boston with 38 points, while Jayson Tatum added 27 points and 11 rebounds.

Boston got another win over Milwaukee, 117-103, at TD Garden on Dec. 13. Tatum exploded for 42 points, 16 of which he scored in the fourth quarter, while Brown scored 19 in his first game back from a knee injury. Grant Williams, who will be an important piece for the Celtics in the upcoming series, scored 17 for Boston. The Celtics defense held Antetokounmpo to just 20 points off 7-for-14 shooting, while Jrue Holiday also had 20 points to go with eight assists.

The Bucks got some revenge on Christmas Day, beating the Celtics 117-113 in Milwaukee despite Boston leading by 19 points in the first half. Giannis went off for 36 points, 12 rebounds and five assists as the Bucks scored 43 points in the third quarter before outscoring the Celtics 27-19 in the fourth. Boston had just eight players available with the bulk of the roster in COVID protocol. Tatum and Brown both scored 25 for the Celtics in the loss.

The two teams met for a final time on April 7 in Milwaukee, which the Bucks won 127-121 on 29 points and 11 rebounds from Giannis, 29-8-8 from Holiday and 22-8-9 from Khris Middleton. The Celtics did not play Tatum or Al Horford that night, as it was the second leg of a back-to-back and both played big minutes the night before in a win over the Chicago Bulls. Boston still put up a fight, with Jaylen Brown posting a triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds while Marcus Smart scored 29 points.

In his three games against the Celtics, Giannis averaged 28.3 points off 53.4 percent shooting. Holiday averaged 20.8 points and eight assists over his four games against the C's, while Middleton put up 14.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.3 assists in his three games against Boston. Middleton has had some big games against the Celtics in the past, but he may miss the entire upcoming series against Boston as he recovers from a sprained MCL that he suffered in Game 2 against the Bulls.

Tatum averaged 31.3 points off 47.1 percent shooting overall, and 44.4 percent from three-point range, to go with 8.3 rebounds in his three regular season games against the Bucks. Brown averaged 22 points, six rebounds and 6.3 assists in his three games against Milwaukee. Robert Williams, who is working his way back to full strength after making an early return from a meniscus tear in his left knee, averaged 11 points and 10.3 rebounds in three games against the Bucks.

The series, of course, will come down to defense, mainly slowing down Giannis. That has been a full team effort, though we'll probably see a lot of Al Horford, Grant Williams and even Marcus Smart try their hand at the difficult task. The Celtics will also have to pay plenty of attention on his supporting cast, including Holiday, Bobby Portis, Arlington native Pat Connaughton, and Grayson Allen. Milwaukee boasts a much deeper team than the Nets, and will present the Celtics with a lot of issues on the offensive end.

But the Celtics have made it clear that they won't run from anyone this postseason, and Ime Udoka will have them prepared for any challenges that the Bucks send their way when the series tips off this weekend.

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