7/31: Giannis leads Bucks past Celtics as teams return to action in the bubble
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks returned to action Friday night with an exciting battle between two of the league's best teams. The Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo's 36 points and 15 rebounds took the win 119 to 112.
The game got off to a dreadful start for the Celtics. The Bucks sprinted out to a 17 to 2 lead out of the gate. In that span, Boston's only points were on an own basket by Milwaukee credited to Jayson Tatum.
The Celtics bounced right back though. A twenty one to eight run got them within two points, but after the first quarter they trailed by eight. Kemba Walker, who per Brad Stevens plan played just 19 minutes because of injury, had his shot firing on all cylinders. He finished with 16 points on 5 for 9 shooting, while going 3 for 6 beyond the arc.
Marcus Smart was another huge part of the Celtics first quarter run. Per usual, he was making plays and giving the C's energy on defense, but he shot the ball really well as well.
At the half, the Bucks led by six. Boston's team shooting had not exactly found its stride though. At halftime, they were shooting 15-39 overall. Despite that, they were prolific from the free throw line, going 23-29.
Smart, Jaylen Brown, and Gordon Hayward continued their strong play, and gave the team their first lead of the game, 83-82, with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. After three quarters, the game was all knotted up.
Smart finished the game with 23 points, Brown had 21, and Hayward 17.
Through it all, Jayson Tatum shot a horrendous 2-18, and one of those buckets was the own basket by the Bucks. Definitely not the start Tatum wanted, but knowing his skill level, he will bounce back.
The story for the Bucks was who else, Giannis Antetokounmpo. He was unstoppable. 36 points, 15 rebounds, and seven assists. No one else on the Bucks reached 20 points or more than six rebounds, but they simply didn't have to.
It was pretty clear that the Celtics had no one that could guard him, and they pretty much tried everyone. Tatum, Brown, Smart, all had shots at him. Probably the guy who stifled him the most was actually Semi Ojeleye off the bench. Ojeleye played 15 minutes, but his lack of an offensive game hurts his value.
Let me just say that I completely agree with Brad Stevens choice to limit Kemba Walker's minutes, but if he had played the full game the Celtics might have pulled this one out. Kemba left the game with about five minutes left in the third quarter, and did not return to the court.
Had Jayson Tatum made just a few more shots, the Celtics would have come away with the victory.
In addition, the reffing most definitely did not go the Celtics way. Giannis easily could have fouled out a few times, and a key goal-tending miss call took two points away from Boston late in the game.
I am not upset with the C's performance at all. Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Gordon Hayward all played really well. The Celtics showed that they are very competitive with the Bucks despite not many minutes from Kemba Walker, and a terrible game from Jayson Tatum.
Overall, it was a very good game. I would say it was a bit sluggish, but not too much to complain about. There were a lot of fouls but once again, this game was by no means a disappointment.