With four turnovers in the first five minutes of the game, the Bucks sloppy play from the first round carried over to start. Milwaukee battled back with a 10-0 run to close the quarter though to take a 27-24 lead. The Bucks looked even more composed in the second period, as the Celtics looked a little tentative and Milwaukee found a 56-46 lead behind 50% shooting from deep. The Bucks looked like they might be in trouble with Giannis leaving with four fouls and three minutes left, but they managed to even extend their lead from that point on to hold a 78-70 advantage to start the fourth. That score held and then some, as Milwaukee’s defense clamped down on Boston and Ime Udoka waved the white flag with two minutes to go.
Giannis embraced the playmaker road. In the first half, while he was having trouble finding his way beneath the rim (just 4-13), he took advantage of his isolations against the Celtics bigger defenders and was able to break down the defense and his shooters paid it off. He made a number of sterling passes and cut back on the turnovers after the start of the game. While he struggled overall from the field, just 9-25 from the field, he took advantage of mismatches and found his teammates when needed. Also, credit to Mike Budenholzer who had him on track for at least 42 minutes were it not for his foul trouble and the Bucks winning this one with at least two minutes to go.
Milwaukee flipped the turnover script. The Bucks started off this game with seven turnovers, giving the Celtics shots aplenty and generally looking like they couldn’t protect the ball properly. That’s what made the late stage development of this game so impressive, as they ended with just 14 compared to Boston’s 18. Even more important, they scored 27 points off Boston’s gaffes while the Celtics mustered just six. What a job by the team locking back in for the final few quarters of this one.
Jrue Holiday delivered. His impact wasn’t felt too acutely in the first half, but he asserted himself in the second half by shoving himself into Boston defenders and forcing his way to the rim. Defensively, he managed to get in Boston’s face throughout the second half, forcing turnovers and difficult shots, but the rough thing for Celtics fans is I didn’t even think he was at his best on that end. Him nailing 3-5 from deep was critical, and sneakily important was his 6-6 from the line, including a few key ones late.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Milwaukee opened up with Giannis guarding Jaylen Brown, Wes Matthews on Jayson Tatum and Jrue Holiday on Marcus Smart.
- It was a pleasant start to see Jrue Holiday see his first two triples drop down.
- Grayson Allen was the first sub off the bench for Jrue Holiday, and was matched up with Marcus Smart to start.
- After Jaylen Brown got a putback dunk right on Giannis’s head, he showed really impressive poise taking it to Al Horford on the other end and creating an absurd open three for Portis atop the arc with a beautiful pass.
- Can you imagine being Jayson Tatum in the first period and getting past Brook Lopez in the corner for a drive to the rim, only to see Giannis stretch out his massive arms at the rim?
- Bobby Portis made a really impressive pass in the second quarter, catching the ball off a one-handed sling from Giannis and immediately dishing it to Pat Connaughton in the corner for a three.
- With a bloodthirsty TD Garden crowd, Giannis knocking down his first four free throws was an encouraging, quieting development.
- Grayson Allen was quite impressive in his stint in this game with a true test against a Playoff defense, nailing his triples and most amazingly, taking Robert Williams III off the dribble and hitting a floater against him. He also did a great job of digging in without leaving his man too much on the perimeter and forcing some steals. Also, huge credit to him for being an absolute pest defensively with three steals too.
- Milwaukee didn’t hit a three-pointer in the third quarter (0-8), but still managed to only lose the period by two.
- If you wanted a role player comparison in this one, there was a perfect example in the fourth quarter when Payton Pritchard clanked an open three after a defensive miscommunication, and on the other end Giannis dished to Portis in the corner for a triple that swished.
- This might be the signature Giannis play now…him bouncing it off the backboard and slamming it home.