As of this writing the Bulls are up 2-0 on the top seeded Celtics while the Milwaukee Bucks are up 2-1 on the Toronto Raptors. The Celtics and Raptors were considered two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and possible challengers to the Cavaliers for the the Eastern Conference championship. Thus far, that has not really worked out for either team. These are seven game series and there is still a lot of basketball to play, but it is not looking good for either of these teams.
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Let’s take a look the first round series odds that we posted before game one.
|#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Chicago Bulls|
|Chicago Bulls (Series)||+415|
|Boston Celtics (Series)||-525|
|#3 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Milwaukee Bucks|
|Milwaukee Bucks (Series)||+320|
|Toronto Raptors (Series)||-390|
Looking at the odds, this is a surprise. Books don’t like paying out 5-1 and the odds were in their favor. There has only been one top seed upset in the seven game first round era and that was ten years ago. Still, this Celtics-Bucks series holds a lot of similarities in that this is just a complete style mismatch.
The Celtics had a great season by hitting a lot of threes, not rebounding at all and getting a bit lucky with crazy Isaiah Thomas fourth quarters. They face a team that doesn’t rely on threes, rebounds well and has two players in Jimmy Butler and Rajon Rondo who can absolutely shut down Thomas. Robin Lopez is not the kind of player who is getting headlines, but in a series where one team can’t rebound? He’s a superstar.
I want to come up with a scenario where the Celtics come back and win this thing. It’ll involve actually making a lot of threes and a crazy Isaiah Thomas game or two, but that just doesn’t feel likely. It’s more luck based than results based. They don’t get to the line and they don’t rebound. That’s really bad in the playoffs. It really feels like the Bulls are going to pull the upset and I am kicking myself for not realizing it.
By the way, those series odds get updated as things go on. How does Bulls vs. Celtics look now?
|#8 Chicago Bulls vs #1 Boston Celtics|
|Chicago Bulls (Series)||-250|
|Boston Celtics (Series)||+210|
The Bucks and Raptors feels like more of a surprise, but it probably shouldn’t. Who has the best player in the series? The Bucks in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Who has two stars that are famous for being bad in the playoffs? The Raptors in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. Consider this crazy stat that The Ringer unearthed:
…of the 261 players who have attempted at least 500 shots in the playoffs since the NBA adopted the 3-point line in 1979, Lowry and DeMar DeRozan have two of the 17 worst effective field goal percentages.
And we didn’t see this coming? Yeah, I guess we just forgot about all that.
The Raptors seemed like a better team this year. Their offense was much better this year. They traded for Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker who are defensive stoppers. Cory Joseph was a solid pick-up and Jonas Valanciunas should be a match-up nightmare for Milwaukee. It seemed like it was finally time for them to exorcise those playoff demons.
The Bucks aren’t some great team. Lowry and DeRozan are being outplayed by Matthew Dellavedova and Malcolm Brogdon. We haven’t even seen a crazy Playoff Giannis game where he shows how much of a Freak he is. The Raptors just aren’t showing up and the Bucks are. The Raptors got absolutely destroyed last night in a way that one of the top three teams in the East should never get destroyed. Maybe they just aren’t a playoff team. Maybe Dwayne Casey isn’t a good coach. The signs have been there for years.
No matter what happens this is the end for them.
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