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2018 NBA playoffs live: first round scores on Sunday, calendar, analysis, odds

Can Jayson Tatum and the Celtics handle the Bucks in Game 1? (Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

The first round of the NBA playoffs continues today with four more Game 1s. Here is the latest analysis and comments from The Post's NBA journalist, Tim Bontemps, and ask him questions in the comments section.

Calendar and results | Odds | Pre-match reading | Comment section Q & A

Who will become the Robin in the Batman of his star?

Giannis Antetokounmpo is the best player in this series. Al Horford is the second best. None of those facts is in dispute.

However, where this series is likely to be decided, it is in who are the third and fourth best players. There are candidates from both sides: Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe for Milwaukee, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for Boston.

So far, in this game, it's a mixed game, so it's a 70-66 advantage in three quarters. Middleton has been excellent for Milwaukee, scoring 21 points in 8 of 13 shots. Bledsoe, on the other hand, has been horrible (four points in 2 of 9, plus three assists and three turnovers). For Boston, Brown has 16 points, and Tatum has 13, including a big triple at the end of the third.

The best of those duos in the last quarter will probably decide this.

Kyrie Irving hole fit for the Celtics

There were many fears that the Celtics could score without Kyrie Irving in the playoffs.

These fears are happening in the second quarter.

Boston now has 2-for-16 with four turnovers in the second quarter, allowing Milwaukee to outstrip the Celtics 26-7 and turn the game around in favor of the Bucks.

If the Bucks do not give the Celtics easy scoring opportunities in transition, it's going to be extremely difficult for Boston to score. This has been demonstrated by the way the first half developed.

Jabari Parker is still fighting

It was a tough period in the first quarter for Jabari Parker, who was down to -13 in four minutes when the Bucks fell into a big hole.

The Milwaukee defense, as expected, had problems with Parker, who had never been a strong defender, and that was before he ripped his ACL twice, on the ground. It will be interesting to see if Bucks coach Joe Prunty has to limit Parker's minutes to advance in the series, as there is no doubt that Celtics coach Brad Stevens will try to take advantage of every time Parker is in the game.

This is part of the complications that come with Milwaukee's decision on what to do with Parker this summer, when he will be a restricted free agent, and the former general pick. ° 2 will certainly look for a great payday.

Bucks-Celtics is underway, and Boston seems the most prepared team

This Bucks-Celtics series was easily defined in several ways. The Bucks have talent, but they are often disorganized, while the Celtics have innumerable injuries, but they will be well trained and will not make mistakes.

Through a quarter, that's how you're playing, and Boston is better for that. [19659021] Milwaukee made an absurd eight turnovers in the first quarter – leading to 15 points from Boston – when the Celtics closed the first quarter with a 15-0 run and closed the Bucks in the last 4:17 to take a 29-17 advantage. after 1.

This quarter is exactly how Boston needs to play to win this series: play a suffocating defense and use that defense to create turnovers leading to easy scoring opportunities for a team that will have trouble getting baskets easy now that he does not have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward for all the playoffs.

  • Predicting the first round series of the East and West; expect the Rockets to sweep

The last time we saw the Milwaukee Bucks, they were completely eliminated in their season finale: a beating 130-95 at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Then, why? Pick them up to beat the Boston Celtics in their next playoff series? One reason: Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Yes, the Bucks have many problems. They shot their trainer, Jason Kidd, in the middle of the season. Jabari Parker (understandably) looked rusty on returning from his second tear of the anterior cruciate ligament in three years. His defense leaves a lot to be desired.

But having a player among the first five in the world can erase many problems. That's particularly true in the playoffs, where with days off between games and a long summer ahead, players like Antetokounmpo can play more than 40 minutes. Given that Milwaukee has 9.1 points per 100 worst possessions with Antetokounmpo in the bank (including more than 6 points per 100 worst defensively), by NBA.com, and that extra time on the court could make a difference.

A few healthy Celtics team, however, would be more than enough to beat this team of Bucks. But the Celtics are far from healthy. They have been without Gordon Hayward all season, but losing Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis in the playoffs (and Marcus Smart, presumably throughout the first round) leaves Boston with four rotation players, including two stars.

Brad Stevens can be a magician, but magicians need tools to carry out their tricks. Will rookie Jayson Tatum, sophomore Jaylen Brown and third-year guard Terry Rozier be good enough to help Boston move forward? Potentially. And the presence of Al Horford will help ensure that the Boston defense is good enough to give the Celtics a chance if their shooters can knock the three down.

However, talent tends to win in the playoffs. And not only the Bucks have Antetokounmpo, but they have three of the four best players in the series (depending on where Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton stand in comparison to Tatum and Brown). How these four players perform could end up being the benchmark of how this series goes.

But if I have to hang onto something when making a prediction, I will live riding with one of the best players in the NBA against an opponent plagued by injuries.

Antetokounmpo has not had a great moment in the playoffs yet. He is good enough to defeat the Celtics for the first time.

*****

Some quick successes in other games today :

– The Cleveland Cavaliers have spent the entire season playing zero defense, leaving observers curious as to whether they plan to play any in the playoffs. However, judging by how coach Tyronn Lue is lining up his players before they start, it looks like the Cavaliers are betting on their offense to take them in their place.

For that purpose, entering the playoffs with a starting team of Jeff Green in power forward and Kevin Love in the center – avoiding better defensive options in Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr. – makes sense. That could end up being particularly true against an Indiana Pacers team that does not have the kind of bruise on the low post that the next two possible Cleveland opponents – the Toronto Raptors and the Philadelphia 76ers – will have.

But how the Cleveland defense is held up, and if its offense is good enough to take it whether or not the "D" is shown, it will be the main thing to keep in mind while the Cavaliers try to make their fourth consecutive final of the NBA.

– There may not be an individual fight I'm expecting more in these playoffs than Paul George against Donovan Mitchell.

George has been one of the best defenders on the perimeter of the league for some time, and the Oklahoma City Thunder can unleash him on Mitchell – Utah Jazz's top scorer as a rookie, and allow him to make Mitchell's miserable life every second who is on the court.

It's been an awesome rookie season for Mitchell, but it seems it's too much or a question to figure out how to succeed against a veteran like George, not to mention a veteran who, over and over again, has stepped up his game to another level in the playoffs.

This is just one of the many reasons why Jazz -Thunder is a series that I'm excited to see every second of, and I hope it's as much as possible.

– The Minnesota Timberwolves have a fundamental problem in their attempt to make their series interesting against the Houston Rockets: they need to change the mathematics.

Houston is one of the most prolific three-point shooting teams in the league; Minnesota is one of the worst. It's that difference, as much as anything else, that will make Minnesota's life difficult against the Rockets. To win, Minnesota must prevent Houston from scoring at will from beyond the goal, and must try to increase its own production at the other end.

This season, that equation has not worked too well, since the Rockets have won the four meetings, three by 18 points, the other by nine. To make matters worse, Houston has scored at least 116 points in all four meetings, and 120 or more in three of them.

There is a reason, after all, that this was the only series I chose to finish in four games. Until further notice, three will remain more than two.

Predict the East

Raptors on 7: I want to choose Washington to win this series. The Wizards combine well with Toronto and have not shown fear for them this season (dividing four games without John Wall playing in any of them). But it is impossible to put so much faith in this Wizards team because of the way they have played this season. Then, while Toronto will once again have difficulties, they will find a way forward.

Bucks in 6: Upset! I also feel insecure about this series, since I can not trust Milwaukee and Boston has a million injuries. But the Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo, and I'm choosing The Greek Freak to have his first playoff moment and take the Bucks to the second round.

Sixers in 7: Another difficult series to match. Philadelphia has much more talent than Miami, but much less experience. Teams usually have to take gradual steps in the playoffs, and rarely make it to the conference finals on their first try, as the Sixers are expected to do. But with Joel Embiid probably coming back early in the series, we'll tip the odds, very slightly, towards Philadelphia.

Cavs in 5: LeBron James has reached the NBA Finals for seven consecutive games seasons. He is not losing in the first round. It has been a tremendous season for the Indiana Pacers and former DeMatha star, Victor Oladipo, but it ends here.

Predicting the West

Rockets in 4: Minnesota simply can not protect Houston. This should be a high score, but short.

Warriors in 5: With Stephen Curry wounded, Golden State limping in the playoffs and San Antonio pedigree, the Spurs will get a game. But if this series is more competitive than that, the questions about Golden State's ability to repeat as champions will gain much more credibility in my eyes.

Pelicans in 6: This should be a really fun series, and Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard has a predilection for being great in the big moments. But Anthony Davis has taken a step forward this season and has established himself as one of the first five players in the NBA, and has yet to win a postseason game. This is his moment to make a statement, and I think he will do it by taking the Pelicans to the second round.

Thunder in 7: This is undoubtedly the best and most convincing series of the first round. But the Thunder has a couple of things going for it. The first is the house, which, in a closed series, is a great advantage. The second is that Paul George, one of the best players and defenders of the NBA wing, will be taking care of Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell. It was an amazing debut with the Louisville product, but asking him to be the top scorer on a playoff team against a world defender like George seems too much for Utah to get past him. But this is easily the series I most want to see.

Sunday schedule and results (all times in the East)

  • Milwaukee Bucks in Boston Celtics, 1 p.m. (TNT)
  • Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers, 3:30 p.m. (ABC)
  • Utah Jazz at Oklahoma City Thunder, 6:30 p.m. (TNT)
  • Minnesota Timberwolves at Houston Rockets, 9 p.m. (TNT)

Odds

The Warriors and the Cavaliers have faced each other in three consecutive NBA finals, but Neil Greenberg of The Post writes that neither team should be considered one of the favorites in the playoffs. That should not be too surprising, considering that the Houston Rockets were wire-to-wire this season as the best team in the league; they have a 39 percent chance of winning the title, which would be the first since their consecutive return in the 1994 Finals and & # 39; 95. But what might surprise you is what Greenberg teams have after the Rockets with the best odds to win it all. (Hint: it's not Golden State or Cleveland). In fact, Greenberg also writes that the Warriors should be on alert in the first round, having to house the always dangerous Spurs.

Pre-Match Reading

Brewer : The Raptors send the Wizards a message from Game 1: Toronto is better, clearly better

The Magicians leave Game 1 in Toronto, 114- 106, while the Raptors break an infamous streak

A new NBA story: The Warriors are not favorites to win another title

Their two biggest stars lost by injury, the Celtics still have a big advantage: their coach

Dirk Nowitzki is not part of these NBA playoffs, but Dirk clones are everywhere

& # 39; My friend was shot ": how the bullets of an assassin in Israel changed the name of an NBA team in DC

The Golden State Warriors should be on alert when the NBA Playoffs begin. Really.

Russell Westbrook published a triple-double of a season, again. Why do not we care this time?

Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell can not agree on who is the rookie of the year and it's pretty funny

Q & A Comments

Get in the comment section below at 12:30 pm to chat with The Post's Tim Bontemps about all his questions about the NBA.

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