The Milwaukee Bucks fell to the Boston Celtics tonight in their throwback game, 96-89. Unfortunately, that probably brought back plenty of poor memories for a legion of older fans who recall losing to the Celtics repeatedly in the 80’s playoff runs. A poor first half of basketball by both teams led to a depressing 44-43 score at halftime, with only a few Milwaukee threes and surprising slams (including Khris Middleton!) breaking up a choppy offensive half. The Bucks found a little more success with some pace in the third, but found themselves behind by double digits early in the fourth. Two Snell 3-pointers put Milwaukee back in position, but unfortunately Kyrie Irving proved too much to handle down the stretch.
Despite the pageantry surrounding tonight’s tilt, there’s not a whole lot of reason to panic from this game at all. Boston remains one of the East’s upper echelon teams, and you had to expect they’d have a better chemistry given the additional time to play without Gordon Hayward on the court. Giannis played his worst game of the year and Milwaukee’s other pieces didn’t step up. Unfortunately, mix those two together and it’s tough to imagine anything but a loss.
It was slow going for Giannis in the first half tonight, netting just 11 points, but he managed to break out in the third with some transition finishes. Overall though this was likely his poorest game of the season. Stymied at the rim and unable to make some of the game-saving defensive plays at the rim against Kyrie that we’ve become accustomed to, Giannis looked somewhat mortal tonight. Let’s enjoy the fact though that a 28 point, 10 rebound, seven assist, three steal and one block night was considered his worst game by far.
Malcolm Brogdon looked like Milwaukee’s second best player tonight, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists and displaying an arsenal of competent basketball plays consistent with his strong early season play. Khris Middleton was forcing it again in the first quarter, but managed to end with 15 points albeit on 6-15 shooting and only 1-3 from deep.
For Boston, it was the usual suspects tonight. Kyrie Irving ended with 24 points and seven assists while Al Horford chipped in 27 points and nine rebounds on 11-14 shooting. Their guard trio of Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown finished shooting just 6-29 for a combined 21 points. Smart hit several clutch threes early in the fourth though to give Boston a sizeable lead though and provided enough cushion for Irving to finish off the Bucks.
Stat that Stood Out
Boston managed to best Milwaukee on the boards by 10 overall, netting six offensive boards to Milwaukee’s two and ending with a 47-37 advantage. The Celtics had the fourth worst defensive rebounding percentage (24.7%) and sixth worst offensive rebounding percentage last year (21.2%). While they’ve significantly overhauled their team, many of the rebounds they snagged tonight came late in the game with Milwaukee trying to make their comeback. Both Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown are known as adept rebounders for their size, but that doesn’t make it any more excusable when Brown leaps between three Bucks defenders for a rebound with the game winding down.