The Boston Celtics made sure the embarrassing defeat it suffered in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks did not repeat itself in Game 2. The Massachusetts based team led wire-to-wire on Tuesday night, coming away with a decisive 109-86 win over the defending champions.
With the Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart sidelined due to a right thigh contusion, the C’s still managed to be dominant against a team that rolled them over with ease 48 hours prior.
The Celtics defense held the Bucks to 86 points in Game 2… without their DPOY.— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 4, 2022
This defense is flat out scary. pic.twitter.com/5GYQvV9TIR
Brown Hit the Floor Running
Jaylen Brown barely missed in the first half, and finished with 30 points. He shook off a dismal shooting night in Game 1, going nine for 10 in the first half, including five for five from three-point range.
“Jaylen Brown started the game on fire,” Bucks Coach, Mike Budenholzer said. “He made some high degree of difficult shots, got ’em out of the gate. They were all confident off that start from Jaylen Brown.”
No sooner had the the game tipped off than the Ime Udoka led C’s jumped out to a 18-3 lead in the opening six minutes, slowing the Bucks to just 1-for-10 from the field in that stretch, including an 0-for-6 start from Antetokounmpo.
Brown on the other hand, was red hot. After scoring 12 points in Game 1, he scored 17 in the first quarter on 6 of 7 shooting as the Celtics took a 32-21 lead after one.
Jaylen Brown was in a zone in the first quarter 😤— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 3, 2022
☘️ 17 Pts
☘️ 6-7 FG
☘️ 3-3 3-PT FG pic.twitter.com/fps1fcgPC7
Greek Freak Clamp Down
The C’s clamped down on Giannis Antetokounmpo after his triple-double showing in the series opener. The reigning Finals MVP missed his first six shot attempts of the night before finally getting on the scoreboard via a dunk with less than a minute left in the opening period.
Grant Williams and Al Horford in particular stood out as they formed a wall around the rim and bodied Giannis as he scored just five points on 2-of-12 shooting before halftime. He was limited to 28 points, mostly in the third quarter — nine rebounds and seven assists.
Not sure I’ve seen anyone defend Giannis better in a half than Grant Williams just did.— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) May 4, 2022
Can’t believe I just typed that.
The Bucks cut into what had been a 26-point Celtics lead in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo keyed the charge with 18 points in the period. A 10-0 Milwaukee run, aided by a more than five-minute Celtics scoring drought, trimmed Boston’s lead to 72-56 late in the third quarter.
But Boston outscored the Bucks 11-10 the rest of the period to take an 83-66 advantage into the fourth.
Smart Injury Status
Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Smart experienced some swelling, pain and restricted movement over the past two days. But the expectation is for him to be ready in time for Game 3.
“I don’t think it’s long-term,” Udoka said. “With three days off we are assuming he will be OK.”
The series does not resume until Game 3 on Saturday in Milwaukee, giving the Smart ample time for recovery and potential return to the squad.
Marcus Smart always giving energy🗣️ pic.twitter.com/wLtTs4dPoD— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 3, 2022
Who Wins in the End?
If Boston can capture what it did in the first half moving forward, it can win this series quickly. If it plays the low-energy offense it did in the second? Milwaukee can take control of this series at home.
The problem for Celtics was that it could not sustain the high-octane offense for the duration of the game. Boston scored just 44 second-half points because their offense went cold. It devolved frequently into a ball-handler driving into a halt and the energy dying afterwards.
The first half was proof that Milwaukee has an easier time defending stationary Celtics than moving ones.
Jaylen and Jayson combine for 59 of the Celtics 109 points 🔥— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 4, 2022
Tied at one heading to Milwaukee pic.twitter.com/1oxP15guXB