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NBA Playoffs 2018 - Rapid Recap: Bucks 116, Celtics 92

NBA: Playoffs-Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Thon Maker moved heaven and earth in this game, blocking every Boston Celtic shot from the heavens as the Milwaukee Bucks dominated them at home, 116-92. Milwaukee’s first quarter was fueled by the obvious culprit, Maker, whose four blocks energized the crowd as the Bucks took a 27-12 lead. The battering continued in the second quarter, with the Bucks putting it on the Celtics and grabbing a 58-35 advantage heading into halftime. Boston finally got some offensive flow in the third quarter, but the Bucks staved them off to maintain an 85-67 lead as the fourth started. By the time the fourth ended, it was a scrub match with Milwaukee comfortably ahead.

Tonight’s win was Milwaukee’s most impressive in some time, and finally flashed the clear talent advantage they have over Boston. All of their big three showed up, complemented by a Jabari Parker resurgence and Thon Maker’s biggest game of the year. This was a team performance through and through and Milwaukee’s chemistry only fed into the crowd’s frenzy.

Giannis Antetokounmpo looked brilliant in his time on the court, even with lower scoring figures. He commanded the floor in transition and guided the Bucks with his 19 points, five rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks. Unfortunately, the refs were foul happy tonight and whistled him for five fouls, but the Bucks expanded on their lead in the fourth even when he left the game.

Khris MIddleton’s shotmaking was brilliant once again, ending with 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. Eric Bledose bounced back with 17 points (on efficient 8-13 shooting) and Jabari Parker finally looked real again tallying 17 points, but the real story of tonight is Thon Maker. Maker, who has been buried on the bench for some time and looked overmatched all year, energized the Bucks all game with his proficient spacing and spectacular defense. He ended with 14 points and five(!) blocks and every bucket or block inspired the sort of cheers his early late-game appearances did his rookie year.

Boston’s offense was troubled all evening, most exemplified by the weak game of Al Horford, who finished with just 16 points and didn’t even play in the fourth quarter thanks to Milwaukee’s massacre. Jayson Tatum added 14 of his own and Boston’s backcourt of Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, so stellar in game two, combined for just 20 points.

Stat that Stood Out

16-33 on 3-pointers: Milwaukee has seemed hesitant to shoot from deep all series, attempting just 17 of the darn things last game. Tonight, they finally seemed content to let it rip, particularly Thon Maker and Jabari Parker, each of whom attempted four heaves from deep. The fact they shot a stellar 48.5% percentage is icing on the cake, but the amount of spacing they had and space for Giannis or Middleton to drive was night and day compared to the crunched paint they saw all night in game two. They can’t let up next game.