No Kyrie Irving, no Marcus Smart, no problem. The Celtics outlasted the Bucks in overtime, 113-107, to grab Game 1 of the first round series.
Boston took home the victory after a frantic finish to regulation that saw both teams hit dagger three-pointers. First, Terry Rozier crossed Eric Bledsoe into the afterlife, stared at him, and hit a three-pointer with 0.5 seconds left to break open a tie game.
The game looked like it was over until Khris Middleton hit a miracle buzzer-beater to force overtime. The teams traded buckets in the OT period, but the combination of Rozier and Al Horford pushed Boston to the victory late.
Five Boston players scored at least 19 points, led by Horford’s 24 points and 12 rebounds and Rozier’s 23 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for Milwaukee. Middleton added 31 points.
The was a slugfest until the final minutes of regulation. More games like this, please.
Celtics win — Boston takes Game 1, 113-107.
Tony Snell misses a late three. Boston is in control — The Celtics lead by four with 18 seconds left.
Celtics lead by three with 1 minute left — Jayson Tatum is so smooth:
Giannis dunks. More Rozier daggers — Overtime is already lit. This game went from boring to bonkers in a second’s notice.
Khris Middleton stuns on the Celtics at the buzzer to force overtime — Oh my goodness. The Bucks just sent to the Celtics to overtime on one of the most improbable buzzer-beaters of the season. With 0.5 seconds left, Khris Middleton hit a deep three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. The refs reviewed it and it was clear Middleton got the shot off in time.
Five more minutes of basketball. What a sport.
OH MY GOD TERRY ROZIER — This is the most disrespectful
game-winner shot of all time.
Terry Rozier completely loses Eric Bledsoe for the likely game-winner. pic.twitter.com/bE6I7uJ6np— RealGM (@RealGM) April 15, 2018
LOL not so much — Down nine with five minutes left, the Bucks finally did what we’ve been begging them to do over and over. They put Giannis Antetokounmpo at center, spread the floor, and somehow started scoring over and over again. Who knew?
Eventually, this Malcolm Brogdon three — created thanks to Boston overreacting to acres of space — tied the game at 96.
Celtics might have this one wrapped up — Boston’s pulled away and is up nine with less than five minutes to go. They’ve kept tabs on Giannis — he only has 21 points after scoring 16 in the first half.
The Bucks need to find someone other than Giannis Antetkounmpo or Khris Middleton to score. They have accounted for 40 of the Bucks 66 points through three quarters.
3rd quarter: Celtics 70, Bucks 66
The Celtics held Giannis to just three points in the thid quarter. Now,
Tatum makes it look easy. It's not. pic.twitter.com/31KZ4Cg9Iq— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 15, 2018
The Celtics are back — The Bucks have called a timeout, and they needed to. Boston started taking care of the ball, limiting the number of opportunities for Milwaukee in transition. The Bucks half-court offense hasn’t been great. They can’t buy a bucket, but the Celtics are gunning.
Halftime: Bucks 47, Celtics 44
Milwaukee just flipped Boston onto its head. After the Celtics held a 12-point lead, they got sloppy and turned the ball over early into the second quarter. The Bucks took advantage and got out in transition. Giannis scored 12 points in the second alone. He and Khris Middleton have 16 points apiece. The Bucks are pushing the ball, and when the Celtics don’t set their defense up at halfcourt, it gets a little ugly for them.
Boston is only down three, though. They were able to fight back after getting socked in the mouth. Whoever swings more will win Game 1.
A spark? — Marcus Morris and Jabari Parker just got tangled up fighting for a loose ball. Foul called on Parker, Boston ball. No punches thrown or technical fouls assessed, but the Celtics need to be resuscitated right now, and that play just might have done it.
The Bucks have taken over — Bucks head coach Joe Prunty said the team needed to be sharper with its drive and kick game, especially in transition. Milwaukee has been snappier with its decision-making and is up 10 after trailing 12. Incredible.
That escalated quickly — The Celtics reserved have turned the ball over sloppily, several times to start the second, and the Bucks have capitalized every trip. It’s only a four-point game now.
1st quarter: Celtics 29, Bucks 17
It will be very hard for the Bucks to remain competitive if they can’t hold onto the ball. The Celtics have forced eight turnovers in the first period alone and they closed the quarter on a 15-0 run. Milwaukee’s offense is stagnant and there’s little execution on the action the do run. Boston is turning them over and outrunning them in transition.
This one’s a little ugly, early.
Giannis is making plays without touching the ball:
Spacing isn’t great for Bucks. But with Giannis in slot, Brown doesn’t want to leave him, opening up Henson dunk pic.twitter.com/MVIjc0szae— BBALLBREAKDOWN (@bballbreakdown) April 15, 2018
Giannis being Giannis early:
The second-seeded Boston Celtics and No. 7 Milwaukee Bucks are going head-to-head in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, available for livestream on NBA TV and TNT overtime. This series is a toss-up, but still seems to be swinging in Boston’s favor.
The Celtics retained their standing despite a barrage of injuries, including season-ending blows to Kyrie Irving, Daniel Theis and Marcus Smart. It compounded the damage done at the beginning of the year after Gordon Hayward’s awful ankle injury. Terry Rozier has stepped up in Irving’s absence, and Al Hoford has been consistent on both ends all season long. The Celtics still have their dynamic duo of wings, rookie Jayson Tatum and second-year standout Jaylen Brown.
The Bucks have had a tumultuous season of their own. They fired Jason Kidd as head coach midseason and have let assistant Joe Prunty coach the remainder of the year. They’ve underperformed. Their offense is stagnant, and some of the pieces don’t seem to fit. They still have Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton, as well as a bunch of talented, young players coming off the bench. On paper, this should be the Bucks series to win.
Boston still holds the league’s best defense, and Milwaukee has been outstanding at very little this season. It will be interesting to see the way this series shakes out. We will be tracking highlights from Game 1 here.