The Milwaukee Bucks have rarely lost this season. Just six times so far have they found themselves down when the clock hit zero and the season has just past the half way point. And when they do lose, they make a point of beating that team in their next opportunity. That’s exactly what they did tonight, avenging their loss against the Boston Celtics from the second game of the season, winning 128-123.
The game started out very one-sided. The Bucks seemingly couldn’t miss while the Celtics couldn’t get a shot to fall. Through the first two quarters, Milwaukee shot 62% of their shots and were 12-15 from three and had 76 points at the break.
Meanwhile, Boston had shot ten more threes than their opponent but had made just seven and were 40% from the floor. Kemba Walker and Marcus Smart kept the Celtics treading water without starter Jaylen Brown available for the game.
The two combined for 40 points on 12-22 from the field and 6-12 from deep. Kemba had 24 in the second quarter alone. The rest of the team was 8-26. Celtics down 76-58 at the half.
Still, we’d seen this before. In the first matchup between the 1 and 2 seeds in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks led by as much as 19 in the first half and still managed to lose by 11. Most believed the team that played two and a half months ago isn’t the same one today, and they were surely tested to prove them right.
Boston made an instant push in the second half to cut the deficit within six. Giannis subbed out midway through the third quarter and by the next timeout, the lead was back up to twenty. Relief set into the fans who seemingly believed they were out of the fog.
Not quite. The Celtics were pesky, making run after run down the stretch to keep Giannis Antetokounmpo and the starters in the game. They were clearly needed, as Giannis and Khris Middleton carried the Bucks to victory without ever submitting the lead for the tenth time this season.
Kemba Walker gets most of the credit for keeping the game close, getting the deficit down to as little as four. A 24-point second quarter boosted him to a 40/11/3 night but still finished -4 on the night.
The bench was nearly nonexistent, which isn’t ideal against Milwaukee. They were outscored 48-23, with Donte DiVincenzo and George Hill combining for 32 points on 10-17 from the floor and 7-9 from three.
Giannis struggled from beyond the arc (0-5) and free throw line (10-20), but that didn’t stop him from putting together a big game and a win. He still shot 11-22 for 32/17/7 yet still -7.
Khris Middleton continued his M.O. as a Celtics killer with 23/6/4 on 8-13 and 3-5 from deep. When Khris is shooting as efficiently as he has, there’s reason to wonder why he won’t hunt his own shot a little more during the regular season to get the reps.
Milwaukee improves to 37-6 on the season. They will play next on Saturday against the Brooklyn Nets on NBATV. Tip-off is set for 5:00 p.m. CT.