A disastrous start let a faint glimmer of light in at the end, but Milwaukee ultimately perished against the Boston Celtics in overtime, 112-108. Another poor defensive performance gave way to a last-ditch effort down the stretch as Milwaukee worked it to a tie as regulation concluded, but they couldn’t manufacture offense outside of two Tony Snell threes in the final portion.
Giannis posted 21 points, six rebounds and six assists with Greg Monroe coming up big late with 14 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and three blocks. Michael Beasley chipped in 17 points including a strong first half showing and Tony Snell was the unsung hero with 12 points and the Bucks only points in overtime. Jabari had his worst game of the season, scoring just four points and grabbing eight rebounds.
For Boston, Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics as usual with a sterling 37 points and eight assists including some outrageously difficult finishes at the rim and from outside as he went 6-11 from three. Jae Crowder had 20 points, six rebounds and four assists and bean farmer Kelly Olynyk finished with 17 points and seven rebounds.
Milwaukee’s defense was atrocious to start the matchup, giving up 42 points in the first as Boston found any shot they wanted despite Thon Maker getting a surprise start. It stabilized in the second half, with Milwaukee working their way back into the game off scores in transition and in the fourth, some low-block yeoman’s work from Greg Monroe against Kelly Olynyk. In overtime, Tony Snell hit two three-pointers to tie the game after the Bucks seemed dead in the water, but it wasn’t enough as Milwaukee couldn’t manufacture a good look in the final minute.
The Bucks shot 42.5% on the night to Boston’s 41.6%, but allowed the Celtics to shoot 40 three-pointers on the night, hitting 14 of them for a 35% conversion rate.
Milwaukee cratered beneath three Boston three-pointers to start, taking an early timeout after Jae Crowder hit his second three to open up an 11-2 lead for the Celtics a little over two minutes into the game. Milwaukee’s defense continued to allow open looks on the perimeter for Boston, but they fought their way back behind the trusted triumvirate of Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell and Michael Beasley, who scored 22 of the Bucks’ first 23 points as Milwaukee trailed 29-23 after a Beasley slam in transition.
The Celtics continued to treat Milwaukee’s defense like a cheap cheddar, shredding it apart with pick and roll passing and open looks from the outside. Boston led after one, 42-27, with Michael Beasley as the high scorer for Milwaukee at 11 points. Neither Giannis or Jabari scored in the period.
Stuttering for the first few minutes of the second, and fazed by the alarming sight of Kelly Olynyk beating the entire team back for a transition bucket, Milwaukee finally awoke with a series of dunks at the hoop. First, Giannis got a feed from Terry in transition, then he got a switch on Terry Rozier and immediately banished him beneath the hoop before Malcolm Brogdon laid down another dunk to bring Milwaukee within 44-34. Milwaukee kept the lead within ten points for the majority of the rest of the quarter, as John Henson meandered into the contest for much of the second quarter, even attempting (and hitting!) a jumper as the shot clock wound down.
Isaiah Thomas staved off any Bucks’ offensive runs, nailing an unconscious three over Snell’s arm and then putting up a mini sky-hook to make it 62-48 with a little under two to go, and Milwaukee went into half trailing 64-53.
Giannis scored eight points with four assists, Delly had 10 points and Michael Beasley led the team with 11 points and five rebounds, all of whose points came in the first quarter. Jabari Parker went scoreless in the first half. For Boston, Isaiah Thomas had an incredible 23 points on just 5-7 shooting and Jae Crowder had 13 points. Milwaukee shot 43.6% for the half to Boston’s 48.7, but the Celtics went 9-23 (39.1%) from deep, outpacing the Bucks’ just 4-9 half from three. The Bucks failed to force any turnovers or score in transition, with just one fast break point on the half and only five Celtic turnovers.
A slow start to the second half exploded into an all-out lengthgasm for Milwaukee, as Giannis had two and-one opportunities with slick finishes in transition off feeds from Delllavedova, followed up by Thon’s first notable minutes of the game. After a Thonster block on Jaylen Brown, Maker got the ensuing rebound and dunked a feed from Delly on the other end, followed up by another Thon transition finger roll finish to pull Milwaukee within 69-64.
Boston opened the lead back up by drawing fouls and hitting layups, but Giannis hit a casual three-pointer and Beasley gave Olynyk the business on a runner in the lane as Milwaukee got back within five. The quarter ended with Boston ahead 81-73.
Jason Terry fed Michael Beasley a crisp alley-oop to start the fourth, followed quickly by Malcolm Brogdon finishing an and-one layup against Kelly Olynyk. After Isaiah Thomas hit another three, Jason Terry answered with his own from the corner. Giannis answered that with a block of Jaylen Brown at the rim and a reverse layup on offense to put Milwaukee behind only 88-87.
A clean catch and shoot three from Giannis tied the game for the first time since tipoff, and Greg Monroe gave the Bucks their first lead minutes alter on an and-one late shot clock layup. Milwaukee continued to feed Moose down the stretch, attacking Olynyk relentlessly on the block to make it a tie at 102 with 36.8 remaining. Jabari Parker had the ball on a fast break four feet from the rim, and opted to throw it to the backcourt, where it went off target and out of bounds. Isaiah Thomas missed the potential game-winning shot, and it went to overtime.
Boston rattled off six straight points to start the overtime period, but Tony Snell hit back-to-back three pointers to tie it up at 108. Another Snell three-attempt rattled out, sparing the BMO’s roof from getting blown off, but Jae Crowder answered with two free throws on the other end. Giannis missed a contested pull-up in the lane surrounded by three Celtics, and Boston prevailed, 112-108.
Neither Giannis nor Jabari scored in the first quarter. All of the scoring was done by Beasley, Brogdon, Delly, Snelly and Moose. Both looked passive, settling for jump shots instead of working their way down low. Even when Parker found his way to the hoop early, he made potential layups look difficult instead of leaning into contact and at least trying to draw fouls. They were 0-8 for the quarter. Giannis did have four assists though, and this pretty one almost stopped any tears from flowing:
The Adventures of Point Giannis pic.twitter.com/yFsBTUF2nr— BrewHoop.com (@brewhoop) January 29, 2017
Milwaukee gave up seven threes in the first quarter to the Celtics, and allowed them to get to the free throw line 11 times. Boston was scoring in extremely similar ways as the Sixers did last Wednesday in the first quarter. Rolling big men remained untagged rolling to the hoop, and open looks from deep, particularly from the dreaded corners, where the Celtics made four of those threes. It was another dizzying, poor early performance by a Bucks’ defense that played somewhat better as the night went continued.
There were back-to-back three-second offensive violation calls tonight. One was on John Henson and he smiled gleefully afterwards. Nobody stays more positive after a mistake than Henson. Kelly Olynyk later backed up John Henson like he was a trailer and got an and-one.
Kelly Olynyk had a reverse alley-oop tonight, and almost had a sequel in the second quarter. Continually, he kept popping up magically at the hoop behind the backline of the Bucks’ defense. I’m very excited to see him take over Jesse Eisenberg’s role in Now You See Me 3.
Milwaukee put Tony Snell on Isaiah Thomas for most of tonight, recognizing that Delly and Brogdon probably wouldn’t have the foot speed to match Thomas. Smartly, the Celtics used Snell’s presence to their advantage on the other end, hiding Thomas on Snell knowing that he wouldn’t be able to attack him off the dribble or do much of anything outside of run around the arc and put up shots.
Tony Snell couldn’t stop Isaiah Thomas tonight, and nobody really has all season, but with Snell becoming the Bucks’ go-to guy even against point guards with some quicks, I’m curious how they’ll handle those assignments once Khris Middleton comes back. Defensive foot speed has always been an area Middleton’s seemed deficient in, and that wouldn’t seem to lend itself to the types of matchups Snell has drawn. I’m curious to see whether Middleton’s extra ball-handling ability allows Kidd to go with a super-tall backcourt, putting Snell at the nominal point guard position so he can guard those premier matchups but still get Middleton on the court to handle some of the “creation” skills filled by Brogdon or Delly.
Thon Maker was largely ineffective in his five and a half minutes in the first half. However, he came out gunning in the second with potentially his most impressive sequence of the season:
Jabari Parker had his quietest night of this season, and overall his worst performance in some time. His defensive lapses were very evident, as Kelly Olynyk teleported repeatedly behind him, and he had a few paltry contests on players near the rim. On one Gerald Green miss, he barely even leaped. That’s not even mentioning his putrid offensive performance, where he was passive all night settling for deep jumpers that missed and unable to finish when he went down low. He had a nice putback and decent contest of Isaiah Thomas in the final stretch, but that hardly makes up for his lowest scoring output since February of last year when he scored two points. He also made an atrocious decision with the game winding down instead of attacking Jae Crowder, just tossing it backwards as it went out of bounds.
Greg Monroe scored points aplenty down the stretch to help get the game to overtime, and played incredibly sound defense with hands-up contests against Boston, all while playing with five fouls for the latter half of the fourth quarter and all of overtime. Another very impressive performance from the big man.