Celtics vs. Bucks, Round 5: What to expect next in the roller-coaster NBA playoff bout

  • Co-author, Pro Basketball Prospectus series
  • Formerly a consultant with the Indiana Pacers
  • Developed WARP rating and SCHOENE system

No series in the 2022 NBA playoffs has featured more twists and turns than the Boston Celtics vs. the Milwaukee Bucks, who head to TD Garden for Wednesday’s Game 5 tied 2-2 after alternating wins and losses.

Although the New Orleans Pelicans and Phoenix Suns also traded wins throughout the first four games of their opening-round matchup, the higher-seeded Suns never trailed in that series. By contrast, the Celtics have never led, getting blitzed by the Bucks at home in Game 1 and losing a Game 3 thriller but rallying both times to even things.

Because of that back-and-forth nature, it has felt like whoever won the most recent game is in control of the series — and perhaps favored to win the NBA championship. Projections using both ESPN’s Basketball Power Index (BPI) and FiveThirtyEight’s model show one of the two teams claiming the title better than 40% of the time.

With those stakes in mind, let’s take a look at what we can expect from this series in Game 5 (7 p.m. ET, TNT) based on how this roller-coaster showdown has played out.

Boston throws a small wrench into Milwaukee’s game plan

The pivotal moment in Monday’s Game 4 came late in the third quarter, when Celtics coach Ime Udoka made a seemingly trivial substitution:

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