By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Remember when the Celtics swept the Nets? Man, that was funny. A good time was had by all. Well, not the Nets. Everybody else, though? It was a classic hootenanny.
Alas, those days are long gone, and it's on to the second round. There, the Celtics will face the defending National Basketball Association champions, the Milwaukee Bucks. They are pretty good. In fact, they might even be a bit better than the Brooklyn Nets, who -- as stated -- were unable to win a single playoff game in the year 2022.
With that in mind, as the Celtics prepare to face the Bucks on the floor, it's a good time for Celtics fans to prepare off the court to get their minds in the right place heading into the series. So here's a simple viewing guide with some dos and some don'ts for Boston basketball fans in the coming couple of weeks.
DON'T: Talk About Giannis Traveling
Giannis Antetokounmpo is called the Greek Freak for a reason. He's a thousand feet tall, he's hyper athletic, he's bigger than everyone and better than everyone. So when he plays basketball, he doesn't look like anyone else playing basketball.
He also might be able to violate some rules along the way. It's just a part of it.
So when Giannis lays down a dunk on the run without having dribbled the ball since crossing half-court, don't mention it. When he picks up his dribble and takes what looks like five steps en route to the basket, just shush. He's going to do it, it's not going to be whistled, and the game will continue. This is just how things work in the NBA, OK? Don't waste your energy worrying about it. You'll just sound like an amateur.
DON'T: Talk About Giannis Charging
Same deal as above. When the 10-foot man goes flying into the lane with reckless abandon, and a brave Marcus Smart stands on the tracks ready to take on the locomotive, it's not going to result in a charge most of the time. Sometimes it will, for sure. But the refs can't call it every time.
Again, we know this. So why get your blood pressure up about it?
DON'T: Expect A Sweep
You know, the Boston Celtics will be losing a game in this series. Perhaps even multiple. They may even lose four. You never know; sports are crazy.
You probably wouldn't need this reminder normally, but given the events of the first round, it was worth a quick reminder.
DO: Recognize How MASSIVE The Khris Middleton Injury Is
Giannis is obviously the star, but in a lot of ways, Khris Middleton is the killer. But the Bucks are without their killer.
Middleton will miss the entire series, as he deals with an MCL sprain. That is massive.
Middleton ranked second on the Bucks in scoring this year (20.1 points per game), third in assists (5.8) and fourth in rebounds (5.4) this season, averaging 32.4 minutes per contest. Last year during the championship run, he averaged 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game. He delivered several daggers during the Bucks' playoff series win over the Celtics in 2019, too.
Replacing him against the Bulls? Not a problem. But in a competitive series against the Celtics? It could be the single biggest factor in determining a winner and a loser.
DO: Respect Pat Connaughton
Look, the little town of Arlington doesn't have a whole lot to be proud of. The complete list literally used to just be "D'Agostino's."
Now, though, there's an NBA champion from Arlington. Not sure why there was not a parade down Mass Ave. for that last year.
That's really neither here nor there, but he could have another juiced-up game in his return to Boston, like he did with a 14-point showing in Game 3 of that 2019 series. (He actually averaged just under 10 rebounds per game in Games 2-5 of that series. Sports!)
DO: Exhibit Patience
Game 1 is Sunday. Cool. Game 2 is Tuesday. Neat.
Game 3 is ... Saturday?
What the heck?
Sure, waiting an extra couple of days for Game 3 isn't the end of the world. Unless ... it is? You never know.
In any event, work on your breathing exercises and find your inner peace. Perhaps some outdoor yoga. Whatever you need to do to endure that obnoxious wait.
DON'T: Sleep On Grayson Allen
Grayson Allen scored 27 points in Milwaukee's Game 4 win. He hadn't scored 27 points in a game all year long. He had only scored that many points in a game twice in his four-year career. It came after a 22-point performance in Game 3, too, which should put Boston officially on Sneaky Grayson Allen Watch.
Basketball fans obviously love to hate Duke, and they really loved to hate Allen during his days there. It's certainly possible that he's neutralized, but it's always best to ready yourself for the conjuring of certain feelings you thought you'd left in your past.
DO: Hope For Some Bad Blood
Not gonna lie: The Kyrie stuff in Game 1 last series? Delightful. It'll be impossible to replicate, but maybe a hard foul here or there might work to add some early spice to this series, one way or another.
That hostile atmosphere certainly helped the Celtics last round, with the Game 1 buzzer beater and the 17-point comeback in Game 2. Generating that same level of energy -- for a 1 p.m. start in Game 1, no less! -- will be impossible. But if something happens organically, the Garden crowd has shown it can have a real impact on these playoff games.
DO: Enjoy It
The Celtics have been in the playoffs plenty, but there's certainly a different feeling this time around. Best team in the league since January, stifling defense, superstar performances from superstar players, inspired coaching, positive breaks on the injury front ... it just feels like things might be happening.
That's not to put any carts ahead of any horses. But just like the last round, this series has the potential to be fun for the city. So enjoy it like this guy would:
Because there's no other reason why.
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