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The Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks is set to tip-off Sunday afternoon. Both teams advanced after taking care of their respective opponents in the first round. The Celtics swept the Brooklyn Nets, while the Bucks bested the Chicago Bulls in five games. Now, they’ll square off against each other for an opportunity to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.

For what it’s worth, the two teams split their four regular-season meetings, with the Celtics winning both games in Boston and the Bucks taking both in Milwaukee. It will be interesting to see if this pattern continues in the postseason. In a series that has the potential to be extremely close, both teams will be looking to start off with a win on Sunday. With that said, here’s everything you need to know about Game 1 between Boston and Milwaukee.

(2) Boston Celtics vs. (3) Milwaukee Bucks

  • When: Sunday, May 1 | 1 p.m. ET
  • Where: TD Garden — Boston, Massachusetts

Storylines

Bucks: The absence of Khris Middleton is the biggest storyline for the Bucks heading into the series. Middleton has a Grade 2 MCL sprain and will miss the entirety of the series against the Celtics. If the Bucks are able to advance past Boston, there’s a real chance that he would have to miss the conference finals, too. Middleton suffered the injury during Game 2 of Milwaukee’s first-round series against the Bulls, at which point the team announced that he’d be re-evaluated in approximately two weeks.  With Middleton sidelined, the Bucks will need the rest of the roster to step up, something Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer is well aware of.

“We’ve been talking about the depth of the roster, the quality of the roster a lot this season,” Budenholzer said of the situation.” Other guys have gotten opportunities and played well and our defence has tightened up and we’ve leaned hard on that these three games. But we’ve got depth, we’ve got a good group, we miss Khris — I don’t think anybody underestimates how important, how effective he is for us. But while we don’t have him, we have to be our best all up and down the roster.”

Celtics: Boston’s dominant defence will be the focus for the team against Milwaukee. The Celtics did an excellent job of making life extremely difficult for Kevin Durant during the first round, and the team defence that they played on Durant was a huge part of the reason that they were able to advance, easily at that. Now the question will be if they can limit Giannis Antetokounmpo’s production in a similar manner. If they can, Boston will give themselves an excellent opportunity to win the series. Though slowing down Antetokounmpo is a tall task, the absence of Khris Middleton should make it easier for Boston to focus defensive attention on him.

Prediction

As a team near full strength compared to a team missing a key contributor, the Celtics enter the series with an advantage over Milwaukee. After sweeping the Nets in the first round the Celtics should be well-rested, plus the game is in Boston, which gives them an additional edge. Pick: Celtics – 4