The Bucks have changed and that makes Semi Ojeleye more important than ever.
Since last year the Bucks hired Mike Budenholzer as their head coach and he turned their team into a modern NBA juggernaut.
The Bucks still have one of the most unstoppable forces in the NBA in Giannis Antetokounmpo and by surrounding him with knock-down shooters, Budenholzer has made the Bucks almost impossible to guard.
Gainnis presents a unique problem for opposing defenses; he doesn’t have a superior ball-handling ability nor a near unguardable jump shot like James Harden; but what he does do is get downhill allowing him to use his strength and enormous strides to get through defenders.
To defend someone like Giannis you need to be extremely strong and have good feet to keep him away from the basket which is exactly what Semi can do.
Giannis can get away with driving with only one plan: get to the rim, because almost no one can stop him from doing so. But when he runs into someone with comparable strength he turns the ball over or forces up a bad shot.
The Celtics also have the luxury of being able to stagger defenders against him with Semi and Al Horford. Asking only one person to defend Giannis for an entire series is asking too much from anyone.
Aside from staggering Al and Semi, Brad Stevens could put both of them on the floor at the same time creating its own problem for the Bucks. There will be times where the Bucks try to create miss-matches for Giannis, but if the Celtics have two worthy defenders on the court at once it will be that much harder for them to exploit the Celtics’ defense.
Unfortunately for Semi, the series against the Pacers didn’t call for his services, but he should have the opportunity to make up for lost time against the Bucks.
Photo Credit: Celtics Blog