Boston Celtics defeated the Milwaukee Bucks in an extra time spine chiller and various players in the MVP discussion put in exhibitions that moved their cases in an astonishing Friday evening of NBA activity.
Dennis Schrder scored a season-high 38 focuses – eight in extra time – and the Boston Celtics exploited Giannis Antetokounmpo’s nonattendance to beat the Milwaukee Bucks 122-113 on Friday night.
What the Bucks did wrong
In the first half, the Bucks looked like a team devoid of leaders with Malcolm Brogdon, Tony Snell, Greg Monroe, and Matthew Dellavedova all struggling with their shot. Despite getting off to a blazing start with Jason Terry draining a three at the buzzer, Milwaukee went into halftime behind, 41-39.
Terry, who ended up having a great game, scored 12 points in the first half. Unfortunately for the Bucks, Terry’s points didn’t come from making shots. Instead, the C’s defense was giving him multiple attempts and Terry did his best to convert every single one of them. After Terry got fouled on a three and made all three free throws, Terry received a pass in transition and drilled it to give the Celtics an 11-point lead at the break.
What the Celtics did right
The Bucks are second in the Eastern Conference but are struggling of late. And Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows how to capitalize when the opposition is off.
“[We] obviously play well against a good team with a good head coach,” Stevens said after the win. “Tonight was good.”
Kyrie Irving had 36 points and seven assists. Al Horford had 15 points and 12 rebounds, Jaylen Brown scored 18 and Marcus Morris had 17.
A reporter asked how his team held the Bucks to just 11 second-half field goals.
“We just stayed locked in and defended with every effort and every ounce of energy we had left,” Brown said. “We didn’t let up.
Who were the MVPs?
The high-scoring first meeting between the Celtics and the Bucks had its fair share of excitement. And it set up a second game in less than 48 hours.
In the first meeting, Boston squandered a 12-point lead with a minute remaining. But Brad Stevens’ side held on for a 112-106 win as Marcus Smart scored a season-high 30 points.
“I thought we did a great job of finishing the game,” Stevens said after the game, per the Associated Press (via ESPN). “I thought we finished really well and made some big plays late.”
Antetokounmpo didn’t suit up for the Bucks because of soreness in his right knee. His absence opened up a frontcourt spot for Thon Maker, who played a season-high 21 minutes. While also posting nine points and six rebounds.
What was the most exciting moment of the game?
It was an overtime thriller as Boston took advantage of a sloppy performance from the Bucks in the first half. The Celtics shot nearly seven percent better in the first two quarters. And it had a lot to do with the attention being paid to Brown’s smaller, more physical defense against Tony Snell.
The second half wasn’t as close – Boston outscored Milwaukee 31-20 in the third and led 100-90 going into the fourth. But the Celtics came out and took control with an 8-0 run to open the fourth, leading to a question about Boston’s aggressiveness.
“When we need a bucket, we need to find a bucket,” said Brown. “We’ve been doing it for a while.
How will this affect playoff seeding?
In the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks are now tied for fourth with the Philadelphia 76ers. While the Boston Celtics move to third with the Washington Wizards and Toronto Raptors tied at second.
The Celtics improved to 48-19 with the win, while the Bucks drop to 39-25.
Bucks’ fans, who travel well to their games in Boston, had a difficult time filling up the building. Celtics fans clad in green packed the house and rained down taunts on the Bucks, who started Jabari Parker in the game in place of Antetokounmpo.
The result was a sloppy game, with each team amassing 24 turnovers. The Bucks made their first seven shots but finished the first quarter down 27-21.
The Celtics, meanwhile, missed their first eight shots and were down 29-25.
Do we have an MVP race? Two of the candidates put in the kind of performances that justify their case. Kyrie Irving played all 48 minutes and scored 18 of his 31 points in overtime, while Isaiah Thomas also scored 31 points to lead the Boston Celtics over the Bucks in an overtime thriller.
These are the sorts of performances we have been waiting to see from the Celtics’ stars and it’s just what they needed after a rough stretch of games in December. These two individual performances make Irving and Thomas the heavy favorites to win the MVP award.
The Celtics now have a 14-game winning streak.
Toronto Raptors still find themselves in the top spot despite going 2-2 in a four-game road trip.