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Milwaukee vs. Boston: Bucks Eliminate Celtics, 116-91

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EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, BABY

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

YOUR MILWAUKEE BUCKS ARE GOING TO THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2001.

With a 116-91 victory, the Bucks eliminated the Boston Celtics and marched onto the next round of the NBA playoffs, where they’ll meet either the Toronto Raptors or Philadelphia 76ers.

When that’s the case and the hometown team is on the verge of making the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in nearly two decades, you expect it to be loud — and there was no time wasted in Fiserv Forum to start this one off. The Bucks would quickly leap out to an 8-0 lead, with an Eric Bledsoe three capping off the quick run. However, Boston would weather the storm despite 3-of-16 combined shooting from Kyrie Irving and Al Horford. A George Hill three at the end of the quarter would hand the Bucks a 22-19 lead.

The good news in the second quarter? Boston would end the half shooting just 25.5 percent from the floor. The Bucks weren’t shooting much better, but nonetheless, they’d pace themselves enough to get a 52-39 advantage advancing to the third quarter. Nikola Mirotic would highlight the scoring after two periods with 10 points. Eric Bledsoe had nine of his own and George Hill matched him off the bench.

The third quarter would fluctuate a little bit of ugliness between the two teams at times. However, the Bucks would land the majority of the punches and use a few runs to really start putting the nails into the Celtics’ coffin. It wouldn’t be much longer until Boston finally rolled over and went belly-up, ultimately waving the white flag and providing the Bucks a path to the Eastern Conference Finals. It’s time to celebrate, Milwaukee. Soak it in.

Despite the Bucks winning in blowout fashion, Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with a calm 20 points. He’d flirt with a triple-double while doing so, racking up eight rebounds and eight assists. Khris Middleton splashed home 19 points and Eric Bledsoe added 18 of his own to the mix.

Kyrie Irving led the Boston Celtics with 15 points. Jayson Tatum and Marcus Morris matched one another with 14 apiece.

Three Observations

Welcome back, Malcolm!

The wait is finally over — Malcolm Brogdon has returned to the basketball court. It was a welcomed sight by all Bucks fans, and he was rightfully greeted with a standing ovation as he stepped out onto the hardwood for the first time in weeks. I have to admit — I thought he was going to be much rustier than how he appeared. Thankfully, I was wrong. He seemed to move just fine from my vantage point. Obviously, he’s not caught up to speed completely. That’d be hard to do after missing so much time and then being thrown right into the action. However, all things considered, he held his own pretty well. All in all, Brogdon would go 4-of-8 from the floor and stack up 10 points, strung together with three rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes of action. After the game, Budenholzer said that it was a little more than he was expecting to play him, but he welcomed the opportunity. Now, he’ll receive a few more days to catch his rest and heal up even more before the Eastern Conference Finals.

This Bucks defense is so entertaining to watch.

We all know the point where this series turned. Following Game 1, it was clear that an adjustment was to be made, and it was with the Bucks switching. But man, it’s insanity just how lockdown the Milwaukee defense was last night, and really, for this entire series. It was so hard for Boston to organically develop any good shot off in any of the games these two teams faced off. When last night’s game wrapped up, here’s how the Celtics’ shooting display would end up: 29-of-93. My, oh my. Those numbers look so awkward sitting next to one another. For those without a calculator near you, I’ll do the quick math. That’s 31.2 percent. I’m really excited to see just how far this defensive effort from Milwaukee can go, especially if they go up against Kawhi Leonard and the Raptors in the ECF.

Kyrie Irving was a total disaster.

We all know the storyline with this one, but it never gets old. Following his Game 3 performance, Irving told the media that he wouldn’t shoot 8-of-22 (36.4 percent) from the floor again. He then proceeded to shoot 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from the field in Game 4. When he was asked about that performance, he muttered, “Who cares?” Then, last night, Kyrie put the cherry on top with a 6-of-21 performance (28.6 percent) — oh, if only he took one more shot. I guess in the long run, he was right. I mean, he didn’t have an 8-of-22 line from the floor the rest of the series. All jokes aside, he really was an utter disaster. For a man to hype himself as much as he did during the postseason and during offseason interviews, disappointing is an understatement if you’re a Boston fan. But, my saying for whenever a Boston sports team is eliminated from the postseason rings loud and clear — “What a terrible night for Boston...and therefore, a great night for everyone else.”

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Fiserv Forum absolutely brought it. After the Bucks quickly jumped out to an 8-0 lead, it was deafening. I don’t think I’ve heard the arena get any louder than it did than when Eric Bledsoe splashed home that baseline three early on. It was literally a phenomenon. The noise was just swirling in my ear. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced anything like that — and we haven’t even played a game in the Eastern Conference Finals yet. Plenty of time to kick it into a higher level.
  • SERIOUSLY, BUILD THIS MAN A STATUE NOW. After his legendary performance from chugging a beer during the Detroit series, Packers offensive lineman David Bakhtiari was once again shown on the jumbotron and did what he does best:

Our friend Eric Buenning (former writer at Brew Hoop) immediately pitched an idea following Bakhtiari’s efforts the first time around:

Last night, two beers were chugged. I think Das Boot is on deck for the Eastern Conference Finals.

  • Jayson Tatum was on the back of my milk carton this morning. Anybody know who I call? After having such a magnificent series vs. the Bucks last year in the playoffs, he’d average just 12 points a game this year — and boy, did he look lost a majority of the time.
  • George Hill, baby. I don’t even know what else to say about him. From going as an afterthought in a move that many interpreted strictly as cap relief for the Bucks, he goes and outplays Kyrie Irving. Last night, he continued to shine with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting (3-of-6 from deep). That man continues to produce, and I can’t wait to see his contributions in the ECF.
  • I guess if there was one negative thing to take away from this game and the series in a nutshell, it’d be the play of Brook Lopez. He never really developed a consistent conversion from deep this series, and failed to hit any shots last night (0-for-7 on seven 3-point attempts). Budenholzer was asked about it postgame, and he pretty much shrugged it off and attributed it to the game of basketball — sometimes you make them, sometimes you miss and that he’s just going through a bit of a rough stretch. I’m banking on him to turn it around next round.
  • Say it with me, folks. PUMP. THIS. INTO. MY. VEINS.

My heart. Oh, my heart.

  • In his postgame availability, I asked Giannis Antetokounmpo if he has taken any time to sit back and reflect all the way back to that 2013 season and just how far not just he but Khris have come in their time here. He told me that he definitely has, and that those rough stretches are part of what’s currently motivating him. It really is pretty incredible to think how far he’s come in this journey. Everything has changed around him, both on and off the court — and it’s not even done yet.
  • The Tim Frazier streak lives on! With a blowout occurring and the series in the bag, he was able to rack up some minutes, making that nine straight postseason appearances for him. And, hey — he even knocked down a pair of threes!
  • Bucks Game Ops wasted no time in mocking Paul Pierce. Immediately after the game wrapped up, this is what played was on the jumbotron:
  • I want to give a shoutout to local Milwaukee sports radio host Bart Winkler from The Fan. You may have heard the story between him and the late-night CBS Sports radio show Ferrall On the Bench, but if you haven’t, I’ll give a quick synopsis. Basically, a Bucks fan called into that show saying how the Bucks could make it to the Finals. He was then greeted with quick dismissal by the show’s producer, Carver High:

The show has stopped any communication between them and Bart, so feel free to let them know how you really feel like Mr. Milwaukee ‘82 did:

  • EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS, BABY. MAN...IT DOESN’T GET OLD TO SAY. WE AIN’T DONE YET.