In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks just showed the world that they are the world champions and are, therefore, the team to beat. They did this through defense as they contained Jayson Tatum to just 21 points. Jrue Holiday, the bulky guard called for the task, shared the Bucks' simple strategy to contain the talented forward.
After their 101-89 win over the Celtics, Holiday was asked about their excellent job keeping Tatum from going off. 21 points was pretty good. But Tatum needed to score a bit more as the rest of his teammates struggled. According to Holiday, they just pounced on Tatum whenever he got the ball. And the credit does not belong to him alone.
"I think one thing is just crowd him. It's not just me, it's a team effort. I think to be able to funnel him and for him to see two or three guys, sometimes even four, it makes it (seem) like I'm doing something. But I'm really relying on my teammates a lot," Holiday said, per NBC Sports.
Analysts observed that the Bucks were extra physical with Tatum and the entire Celtics. Defense on the three-time All-Star started as soon as the Celtics had possession. Tatum quickly noticed this and believed this tilted the overall tempo in favor of the Bucks.
"I think they just kind of sped us up," Tatum said. "We've just got to do a better job of just doing what we want to do and not letting them dictate that throughout the course of the game."
A scrappy game
The Celtics shot just 33.3 percent from the field and 36.0 percent from deep as a team. However, it cannot be deemed a dominant victory for the Bucks as they had their fair share of struggles. As a team, they shot at a subpar 41.1 percent clip from the field and 35.3 percent from deep.
Giannis Antetokounmpo crawled to 25 points as he shot 9-of-25 from the field. With Khris Middleton still out, others had to fill in the scoring void. Holiday chipped in 25 points, several points above his season average of 18.3 points a night. Just like Giannis, Holiday struggled as he shot just 8-of-20 from the field. However, Holiday made up for it by dropping five dimes, three steals, nine rebounds, and the frustrating the heck out of the Celtics' offense.
From the looks of it, the series will be decided by the team that puts on their best defensive effort every single game in the series. The Celtics proved that they are a formidable foe with their choking of Kevin Durant. The Bucks, for their part, have always been stalwarts on the defensive end. Fans will be treated to a defensive masterclass from both teams.