Milwaukee Stands To Lose More Than Just Game 1
The Milwaukee Bucks had a rocky start to their first-round series against the Miami Heat as they dropped Game 1 Sunday evening. This isn’t the first time they’ve suffered an early loss at home to a lower-seeded opponent, and history has shown they can come back with a vengeance.
Last year, they dropped Game 2 to the Bulls, and back in 2020, they lost Game 1 to the Magic. Ultimately, those losses would mean nothing as they would end up winning those first-round series decisively once they got into their rhythm.
But with Giannis’s back injury, this year could be different, as the outcome of this series could significantly impact the complexion of the East playoff race, especially for the #2 seed Celtics.
Giannis Suffers Back Injury
Giannis Antetokounmpo, a front-runner for the NBA MVP, suffered a back contusion in the first quarter after being fouled by Kevin Love. Antetokounmpo attempted to play through the injury but would ultimately end up leaving the game after scoring just 11 points. The Bucks say that Giannis’s x-rays were negative, but it is still unknown whether he will play in Game 2. Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer told reporters in Milwaukee:
“He just wasn’t moving [well], “He didn’t look comfortable, confident. It felt like the right thing… We’ll monitor him and see how he wakes up [Monday].”
While the Bucks might still be able to defeat the Heat in a seven-game series with or without their best player, Antetokounmpo playing through pain for an extended period could have repercussions for the Bucks that go far beyond the first round. The power forward’s injury is still too fresh to determine its full extent, but Game 1’s underwhelming showing by Giannis’ supporting cast raises some doubts going forward.
Boston Catches Major Break Avoiding Miami
When Miami failed to show up for their Play-In Tournament game against the Hawks last week, Boston was spared a rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals in the opening round. However, Miami recovered with a valiant victory over the Bulls on Friday night, and in Game 1, they produced a sensational offensive display, scoring 130 points.
With Tyler Herro (broken hand) out for the remainder of the series, Miami was dealt a severe blow. That said, Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo stepped up as the best players on the court on Sunday as Milwaukee was hammered for most of the game by Miami’s midrange game. And with the addition of some timely shooting from the team’s supporting cast and a solid offensive game plan from Erik Spoelstra, Miami looked like the team many thought would compete for the East at the start of the season.
But even with that Game 1 performance, if Giannis can play, Miami will still be long shots to defeat the Bucks. But luckily for the Celtics, they appear to be a team that will put more pressure on Milwaukee than the Hawks did in Game 1 of their series against the C’s. As any extra games Milwaukee plays in their early matchups could affect how they play later on in the playoffs, as the race to the title becomes a game of attrition.
Vegas Money Moves To Celtics
These developments have already been reflected in the most recent NBA title odds on Fanduel following this weekend’s Game 1s, where the Celtics (+270) have quickly moved ahead of the Bucks (+320) to become favorites.
Boston still has a long way to go before facing the Bucks in the East Finals, but Milwaukee now appears to be a team that, despite receiving the top overall seed, will have to fight hard just to advance to that matchup.
Remaining Hawks/Celtics Schedule
Note: Celtics with a 1-0 series lead.
Game 2: Atlanta at Boston, Tuesday, April 18, 7 p.m. on NBA TV
Game 3: Boston at Atlanta, Friday, April 21, 7 p.m. on ESPN
Game 4: Boston at Atlanta, Sunday, April 23, 7 p.m. on TNT
Game 5: Atlanta at Boston, Tuesday, April 25, TBD if necessary
Game 6: Boston at Atlanta, Thursday, April 27, TBD if necessary
Game 7: Atlanta at Boston, Thursday, April 27, TBD if necessary