Celtics leading Bucks despite Antetokounpo's 20 first-half points


Celtics leading Bucks despite Antetokounpo's 20 first-half points

BOSTON - The Celtics shook off a shaky start to Friday's game against the Bucks, but they've had a hard time shaking off Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Regardless, Boston holds a 65-58 lead at halftime after clamping down on defense a bit and continuing to make shots. Isaiah Thomas leads the Celtics with 16 points, while Jared Sullinger has 11 and Avery Bradley 10.

The Celtics have had absolutely no answer for Antetokounmpo, also known as the "Greek Freak". Antetokounmpo has 20 points in the first half, scoring 17 of those in the first quarter, the highest-scoring quarter of his young career. He did, however, pick up his third follow in the second quarter.

It didn't matter who Boston put on the Freak, they were going to commit a foul on him at some point. Jae Crowder picked up three fouls in the first quarter, forcing Brad Stevens to sit him on the bench for the entire second quarter.

Meanwhile, Bradley and Thomas helped the C's claw back into things after going down 11 points in the first quarter. Boston took a lead with 9:31 remaining in the second quarter on a Bradley layup, seconds after his dunk brought them to within one point.

The Celtics would build their lead up to six points before the Bucks would retake the lead on a 7-0 run capped of by a Antetokounmpo three-pointer with 3:04 to play. That forced a Brad Stevens timeout, and it turned out to be a good one because Boston then went on a 9-0 run to build back up an eight-point lead. The Bucks cut it to five with 2.1 seconds remaining, but Marcus Smart's full-court inbounds pass to Jared Sullinger was on the money and Sullinger laid it up for an easy two points and seven-point lead.

Kelly Olynyk added nine points off the bench, including two on a thunderous alley-oop slam courtest of a nice pass from Smart.

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

Jayson Tatum comes up big vs Paul George, Thunder

BOSTON – Jayson Tatum had another strong performance for the Boston Celtics, doing so against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Paul George, a player Tatum has acknowledged on more than one occasion he has looked up to. 

That admiration didn’t get in the way of Tatum delivering a big-time performance in helping Boston rally from six points down with 12.7 seconds to play, to knock off the Thunder 100-99.

Tatum tallied a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds. And doing so at 20 years and 17 days old, Tatum became the youngest player in franchise history to tally at least 20 points and 10 rebounds in the same game.

“It feels good,” Tatum said when asked about his first 20-plus point, 10-plus rebound game in the NBA. “But honestly, I’m just glad we won. That was a big win against a great team and it was fun playing out there today.”

Impacting the game on multiple levels offensively along with being a defensive and rebounding force are qualities often associated with George who became familiar with Tatum prior to last June’s NBA draft which is when the Celtics selected him with the third overall pick. 

“I reached out to him before he was coming into this draft and I got to talk to him,” said George, who had 24 points and a game-high 13 rebounds against the Celtics. “It’s an honor when you see young talent. I‘ve been inspired by many in this league so it’s great to inspire the younger generation in this league.”

And while Tatum may be young, he continues to prove himself up for whatever challenges await him. 

“We are going to keep throwing to the wolves and keep going to him in those moments,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens.

Boston closed out the game with an 8-1 spurt in the final 24.7 seconds, with Tatum either scoring or assisting on five of those points which includes assistant on Marcus Morris’ game-winner.

Tatum’s composure down the stretch comes from being influenced by many, including George who considers it “an honor” that Tatum holds him in high regard. 

“At the end of the day, us veteran guys want the younger guys to take the game further and advance much farther than what I was,” George said. “There’s going to be kids looking up to Jayson (Tatum) that are probably already looking up to Jayson (Tatum).”


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

NBC Sports Boston Photo

NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.