After a dominant performance by the Celtics in Game 1, the Milwaukee Bucks responded on their home court to even the series at 1-1 after a 123-102 victory on Tuesday night.
After stealing the first of two games in Milwaukee, Gordon Hayward and the Celtics knew the Bucks would bring a ton of energy to start Game 2, but the Celtics were able to start fast.
The Celtics began the game on a 12-5 run. Jayson Tatum took the Cs first possession right up to the rim to put Boston on the board, and Jaylen Brown drove to the basket twice in the first three minutes of the quarter, drawing two fouls on Nikola Mirotic. However, Milwaukee would respond.
In a matter of minutes, the Celtics found themselves trailing in the game 17-15 after Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton began heating up.
“We knew that they were going to be really good tonight,” coach Brad Stevens said. “[We] talked about matching their urgency and beating their urgency, but we didn’t do that.”
The Celtics continued to battle throughout the first half and kept the game close, despite high quality play from Milwaukee. Marcus Morris lost the ball driving to the net, but it ended up in Hayward’s hands. Driving to the hoop, G kicked it out to Morris, who knocked in a 25-foot 3-pointer to go up 20-17.
Both teams exchanged hard-earned baskets throughout an intense first half. With just over seven minutes to play in the half, the Bucks’ lead climbed to four 42-38. Brown and Horford scored the last seven points for the Cs. Boston was down four at the end of the second quarter 59-55. Hayward notched five points in the first half.
However, beginning in the third quarter, Milwaukee caught fire offensively and all but put the game away, outscoring Boston 39-18 in the quarter with an impressive shooting display.
“They were great tonight,” Stevens said. “They deserved to win.”
Despite the loss in Game 2, Boston did take one game in Milwaukee, which gives the Celtics the home court edge as the series shifts to Boston for the first time, and the Celtics have shown they can compete with the East’s top seed. Emerging from this series victorious will be a matter of executing the game plan and making shots like they did in Game 1.
As the series shifts to Boston, Gordon and the Celtics will look to regroup and lock in for a critical Game 3 on Friday night. The game is set to tip off at the TD Garden at 8 p.m. ET and will air on ESPN.