Celtics beat Bucks 111-100 despite monster night from Antetokounmpo

Celtics beat Bucks 111-100 despite monster night from Antetokounmpo

BOSTON – Monday’s game between Boston and Milwaukee was billed as Greek night, which you would imagine had to make Giannis Antetokounmpo feel at home.

He had a monster night for the Milwaukee Bucks, finishing with 40 points on 14-for-24 shooting with nine rebounds and four assists.

The rest of his team?

Not so much.

And it was Boston’s balanced attack that paved the way for a 111-100 win. Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 32 points, with Al Horford chipping in a near triple-double (seems like he does this every other game, huh?) with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.

Boston (21-4) got double-figure scoring from Jayson Tatum (17 points) and Aron Baynes (10 points).

The Celtics’ defense certainly played a role in Milwaukee’s less-than-stellar play in the closing minutes.

But Boston also benefited from a Milwaukee team that looked fatigued, and that’s not a stretch considering the minutes logged by the Bucks’ core guys in the second half.

Milwaukee head coach Jason Kidd played four of his five starters for the entire third quarter, and used just one substitution off the bench.

In the same period, Boston used nine players with only one – Jayson Tatum – playing the entire third period.

Once they got around to the fourth, Boston simply made the necessary plays to maintain at least a three or four-possession lead as they added yet another victory to their league-best record which now stands at 21-4.

Tatum got the Celtics off to fast start, scoring 14 points in the first quarter alone. And Baynes, in the starting lineup primarily because of his defense, made the most of Milwaukee’s defense not paying him much attention, scoring eight points in the first quarter which ended with Boston ahead 34-26.

Irving went into “I got this” mode in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 13 points on 5-for-10 shooting.

Meanwhile, Antetokounmpo was dominant as ever, scoring on drives to the basket, lay-ups and a few dunks including a couple over Baynes.

Boston pulled ahead by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, only to see its lead on the cusp of being single digits again.

Eric Bledsoe, whose arrival has brought about much-improved play by the Bucks, drained a 3-pointer with 3:23 to play in the third that cut Boston’s lead to 81-72.

Another Celtics missed followed by a basket by Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon brought the Bucks within 81-74, only for a 3-point play by Irving that put the Celtics back ahead by double-digits.

But that sequence was in many ways symbolic of the kind of night that the Bucks had … good but not good enough.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.


WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

NBC Sports Boston illustration

WATCH: Boston Celtics at New Orleans Pelicans

Tune into NBC Sports Boston to watch the Celtics play the Pelicans in New Orleans. You can also click here to watch the Celtics livestream presented by Nissan on the NBC Sports App. Coverage begins at 5:30  p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live Presented by ACE Ticket.

- Game preview: Can C's slow down Anthony Davis?

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[SHOP: Gear up, Celtics fans!]