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Brad Stevens emphasizes the Celtics’ need for physicality against Bucks

Brad Stevens, Celtics

With the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks shifting to Massachusetts, Celtics head coach Brad Stevens is urging his team to play with more energy and physicality in Game 3.

In fact, Stevens believes that the more physical team always win playoff games.

Brad Stevens is right to bring up physicality. The Celtics absolutely hounded and buried the Bucks in Game 1 by playing physical, high-pressure defense.

In that series opener — which the Celtics won by 22 points — the Bucks scored just 26 points in the paint, as Boston posted an astonishing 11 blocks. They also committed 21 personal fouls, a suggestion of that desire to give up the body to make a play on the defensive end.

In contrast, the Bucks turned into the aggressors in Game 2 and won by 21 points. Milwaukee scored 34 points in the paint, won the rebounding battle 58-52, and committed more personal fouls than the Celtics.

Sometimes, the stats and the eye test seem to line up pretty well, and that seems to be the case in terms of the events of this series.

Boston would naturally be a more physical team if Marcus Smart was healthy, but he continues to rehab a torn oblique muscle and has no timetable for return.

Al Horford has been the Celtics’ best player in this series, but he can only do so much in the frontcourt. Boston could use more from their perimeter players, especially Jaylen Brown who was decent on Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 1 but has seemed slightly out of rhythm on the defensive end.