In one of the more intriguing first-round matchups of the 2018 NBA playoffs, the short-handed Boston Celtics will take on Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
All games in this series will be broadcast on either ABC, ESPN, ESPN2 or TNT (full schedule). If you don’t have cable or can’t get to a TV, you can watch all of the games live on your computer, phone or streaming device by signing up for one of the following cable-free, live-TV streaming services:
Hulu With Live TV: In addition to a Netflix-like on-demand streaming library, Hulu now also offers a bundle of live TV channels, including ABC (live in select markets), ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT. You can sign up right here, and you can then watch a live stream of the games on your computer via the Hulu website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Hulu app.
DirecTV Now: ABC (live in select markets), ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in all four of DirecTV Now’s channel packages. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial no matter what package you choose, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the DirecTV Now website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the DirecTV Now app.
Sling TV: ABC (live in select markets), ESPN, ESPN2 and TNT are included in the “Sling Orange” channel package. You can sign up for a free 7-day trial, and you can then watch the games live on your computer via the Sling TV website, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the Sling TV app.
WatchESPN: You can also watch games that are broadcast on ABC, ESPN and ESPN2 on your computer via ESPN.com, or on your phone, tablet or streaming device via the WatchESPN app. Games on ABC can be watched for free without cable if you have a participating internet service provider (ISP), while games on ESPN and ESPN2 require you to sign in to a TV provider. If you don’t have a participating ISP for the ABC games, or don’t have cable for the ESPN games, you can use your Hulu, DirecTV Now or Sling TV credentials to sign in.
Despite playing without two All-Stars (Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving) and an important role player (Marcus Smart), the Celtics have managed to stay afloat. After Irving went down on March 11, the C’s proceeded to go 9-6 down the stretch, including wins against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Portland Trail Blazers, Utah Jazz (that one, on the road against one of the hottest teams in the NBA, came without Al Horford, too) and Toronto Raptors.
The Celtics still have talent, their team defense remains stout (they are fifth in the NBA in defensive rating since Irving’s injury), and Brad Stevens is one of the best coaches in the NBA, capable of game-planning for opponents and playing matchups–even with a depleted roster–as well as anyone in the Association.
Boston’s ceiling may not be as high as what it was with Irving, but if their young players like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown play to their potential, and if someone like Terry Rozier elevates his play consistently, they can still make a run in the wide-open East.
Their opening-round matchup, though, is not an easy one. The Greek Freak is very clearly one of the best–and most entertaining–players in the league, while Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker make up a terrific supporting cast. The Bucks defense, which ranks 27th in the NBA over the last month, can be a sizable weakness, but they have the offensive weapons to give Boston trouble.
That was the case a week ago, when the Bucks shot 54.4 percent of the field en route to a 106-102 win. That evened the season series at two games apiece, though the first three matchups all took place before the calendar turned to 2018.
Ultimately, this is a difficult series to forecast. Boston has the defense, the coaching and the home-court advantage, but it’s hard to know how their young stars will fare. Milwaukee has the offensive stars, but a weak finish to the season is concerning.
It’s easy to see this one going either way, but one thing is clear: With Giannis, Tatum and some of the game’s best young stars in the mix, it should be thoroughly entertaining along the way.