The Celtics smashed the Bucks by 22 in Milwaukee in Game 1 last round. Paul Pierce declared the series over.
Instead, the Bucks won four straight by 16 points per game to advance to the conference finals. It was the best response ever by a team blown out in Game 1.
The Raptors, whom Milwaukee faces in Game 1 tonight, are a much more formidable foe.
“Against Boston, you can go down 1-0 and still be fine,” Antetokounmpo said Tuesday. “But against Toronto it’s hard to be in that spot when you lose the first game at your home.”
Antetokounmpo can say the Bucks were fine after losing Game 1 to Boston… because they were. We now know that.
But that Game 1 setback made it less likely Milwaukee would beat the Celtics. Just because the Bucks won the series doesn’t mean it necessarily had to go that way.
Likewise, whichever team loses Game 1 tonight will be less likely to win the series than if it won Game 1. But either team could still win the series after the early setback. It’ll just be harder than it was for Milwaukee last round because the Bucks and Raptors are better than Boston, as all three teams showed throughout the season.
Did Antetokounmpo intend to take a shot at the Celtics? Maybe. This is what it’d sound like if he did.
But he’s also just speaking the truth.