Charles Barkley picks the Bucks. He knows Khris Middleton isn’t suiting up in this series against the red-hot Boston Celtics. He also realizes just how tough the Celtics have been the last few months.
Celtics fans may have a reason to be concerned. Sir Charles was right on the money with his most recent Boston prediction. Barkley says the reason the Bucks will win the series isn’t because of two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. He said the key for Milwaukee is Brook Lopez.
Charles Barkley successfully predicted the outcome of the last Boston Celtics series
Barkley opened some eyes as the NBA postseason opened. The Inside the NBA analyst has often raised some eyebrows with his comments. He’s a tell-it-like-it-is type of guy and usually says what’s on his mind. Even with his NBA predictions, he can turn a few heads.
Before the playoffs began, many had the Brooklyn Nets coming out of the Eastern Conference. Despite being the No. 7 seed, the Nets boasted two of the game’s top players in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. They finally could play together after a wacky and wild 2021-22 regular season.
Not for a moment did Barkley think the Nets could beat the Celtics in the series.
“There’s no way they can beat the Celtics,” Barkley said after the Nets defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in a play-in game. “They got two great players. They both actually played as good as they probably can play. Kevin Durant was fabulous with his passing and his defense. Kyrie was great. But other than that, I know they can’t beat the Celtics.
“All these fools on all these morning talk shows can let this ship sail. Both of those guys played great, great, and they barely beat a mediocre Cavs team.”
The Celtics made quick work of those Nets with a four-game sweep.
Charles Barkley says the Boston Celtics will lose to the Milwaukee Bucks because of Brook Lopez
While Barkley loved the Celtics in the previous round, he believes their magical run will end when they face the Bucs, beginning Sunday. The second-seeded Celtics host the No. 3 Bucks at TD Garden at 1 p.m. for Game 1.
Even though the Bucks are short-handed without Middleton, Barkley thinks the Celtics’ hot streak comes to an end in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. He also thinks it happens because of Lopez.
“I just think right now Giannis is sending a message,” Barkley said on the air Wednesday night. “I’m a big Jrue Holiday fan. I think Lopez is going to be huge.
“The reason I think Lopez is going to be huge is because (Robert) Williams and (Daniel) Theis are great defenders — they’re not going to be great defenders against the Bucks.
“They got to play that boy out to the 3-point line. He’s a great 3-point shooter, so you’re going to have to pick your poison. If Williams and Theis are going to step back there and try to form a wall against Giannis, Giannis is going to have to kick that ball over to Lopez, and he’s going to make some threes.
“I think Lopez is going to be huge the next series. Just his size and his ability to shoot the ball is going to give Giannis a lot of free lanes.”
The Celtics have won 30 of their last 36 games
The Celtics enter the series with the Bucks as the favorite. They are the hottest team in the NBA, going 30-6 in their last 36 games. One of those losses came in Toronto when Boston only had one regular starter in the lineup. They lost in overtime.
Boston has become a completely different team since late January. The Celtics struggled mightily under first-year coach Ime Udoka. It took some venting, some ugly blown losses, and even Marcus Smart publicly calling out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for their selfish play to turn things around.
They put together a nine-game win streak right before All-Star Weekend. Since then, they haven’t looked back.
Defensively, they’ve become a whole new team. There’s been no more questioning the team’s effort. Tatum has gotten his teammates more involved in the offense.
The Celtics are surging. Barkley, however, believes it all ends at the hands of Brook Lopez. Stay tuned.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.