Celtics

Horford leads Celtics in wild Game 1 win over Bucks

Horford leads Celtics in wild Game 1 win over Bucks

BOSTON –  Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 113-107 Game 1 playoff win against the Milwaukee Bucks.

STARS

Al Horford: Big Al came up with one of his biggest games of the season and the Celtics needed it. He tallied a double-double that included a team-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds along with four assists, two steals and three blocked shots. 

Giannis Antetokounmpo: The Greek Freak was dominant as ever, finishing with a double-double that included a game-high 35 points on 11-for-21 shooting, along with 13 rebounds and seven assists.

Terry Rozier: Scary Terry was at his best down the stretch, drilling what was thought to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds to play. When that shot was matched to force overtime, Rozier was at it again, coming up big down the stretch. He finished with 23 points, including three free throws in the final 13 seconds of overtime. 

Khris Middleton: This was one of those dominant performances in a very stealth-like manner. He hit the game-tying 3-pointer to force overtime which was one of several big shots by Middleton. He would finish the night with 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting along with eight rebounds and six assists.

STUDS

Jaylen Brown: Strong play all game from Jaylen Brown as he finished with 20 points on 9-for-19 shooting to go with four rebounds, four assists and a blocked shot. 

Malcolm Brogdon: He was Milwaukee’s most effective scorer off the bench on Sunday. Last year’s rookie of the year had 16 points on 6-for-13 shooting.

Jayson Tatum: This was a strong playoff debut by the 20-year-old rookie, finishing with 19 points on 8-for-18 shooting as part of a double-double that included 10 rebounds which made him just the third Celtics rookie all-time to tally a double-double in their first playoff game. 

Marcus Morris: He drained a couple of circus-like shots with the shot clock winding down, but there was a lot to like about what Morris brought to the game offensively. He scored 21 points off the bench to go with seven rebounds which was also tops among reserves for both teams.

DUDS

Eric Bledsoe: The Bucks didn’t get nearly enough impactful plays from Bledsoe who had just nine points on 4-for-12 shooting before fouling out. It’s never a good night when you finish with more turnovers (5) than assists (4), and you’re a guard. 

Jabari Parker: The Bucks seemingly had a matchup advantage with Parker coming off the bench. But like most of the Bucks, Parker struggled to ever get into any kind of rhythm as he scored just two points while missing four of his five shot attempts.

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Bucks vs. Celtics: It's all come down to 'who wants it the most'

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File photo

Bucks vs. Celtics: It's all come down to 'who wants it the most'

MILWAUKEE -- Khris Middleton knows what’s at stake so there’s no need to sugarcoat or downplay the significance of tonight’s Game 6 matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“Just win or go home,” Middleton said. “You can’t leave nothing on the line.”

Boston will come into tonight’s game with a similar approach, aware that regardless of what happens in Game 6, they will live to see another game at the TD Garden on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST. They could play Game 7 against Milwaukee or Game 1 of the second round against Philadelphia.

But the Celtics will tell you the sooner they can put away this Bucks team, the better off they’ll be. 

At this point in the series, there are no true surprises for either team.

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“Fifth time playing each other, you’re gonna know each other’s game pretty well by now,” said Milwaukee guard Matthew Dellavedova. “So it’s definitely some things we can do better, and we’ll execute better in game six.”

Like most playoff series, adjustments have a way of often being the difference between winning and losing. 

Milwaukee struck first by inserting Malcolm Brogdan into the starting lineup from Game 3 on, to replace Tony Snell who has struggled shooting the ball (29.4 percent) most of this series. And a back injury to John Henson afforded more playing time to ex-Celtic Tyler Zeller and Thon Maker, with the latter having dominant performances in Games 3 and 4, but being a non-factor in Boston’s Game 5 win which gave the Celtics a 3-2 series lead.

Boston has since countered with Marcus Smart making his playoff debut this season in Game 5 after being out six weeks with a right thumb injury, while Semi Ojeleye got his first NBA start in Boston’s Game 5 win as well. 

“It made it a little bit easier for us (defensively),” said Jaylen Brown, referring to Ojeleye’s first NBA start. “Because we can switch . . . we’re all the same. That made it a lot easier for us.”

"It’s gonna come down to who owns their space, who wants it the most and who’s gonna fight for it,” Brown said. “All that X’s and O’s and stuff  . . . it’s gonna come down to that (who wants it, fights for it more) at the end of the day.”

Terry Rozier added, “It’s gonna be a dog fight but we look to come out on top.”

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Another late error by refs: Celts should have been called for shot-clock violation

Another late error by refs: Celts should have been called for shot-clock violation

MILWAUKEE -- The NBA’s two-minute report from Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win on Tuesday confirmed what many thought at the time: A 3-point heave by Al Horford with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Celtics leading 84-79 was not released prior to the 24-second shot clock expiring, and the Bucks should have been awarded the ball.
 
Following the game, Milwaukee interim head coach Joe Prunty was vocal in his belief that the officials made a mistake in not calling a 24-second violation. The lead official, Ken Mauer, told a pool reporter that the play was not reviewable because Horford missed the shot. Had he made it, the referees could have reviewed it.
 
“The rule states that under two minutes we are not allowed to review a potential 24-second violation unless the ball goes into the basket,” Mauer said.
 
Prunty understood the reason for the refusal to review the play, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with. 
 
The Bucks were focused on getting the ball back and, trailing 84-79, would have had a chance to make it a one-possession game with about a minute to play. The call didn't cost Milwaukee any points, even though the Celtics successfully rebounded Horford's miss and retained possession; Marcus Morris subsequently missed a shot. Still, Boston was able to take about 20 seconds off the clock.

“That was a huge stop to get in Game 5 of a playoff series where both teams are putting everything on the line,” Prunty said after practice on Wednesday. “That’s a tough time to have a missed call. I know for me, I had a great view of it. So what I thought was a shot-clock violation was not called.”

In Sunday's Game 4, the NBA said Milwaukee's Khris Middleton should have been called for fouling Jaylen Brown with less than a minute to play as Brown drove to the basket attempting to extend Boston's 100-99 lead. Instead Brown lost the ball and the Bucks eventuallly pulled out a 104-102 victory.
 
That specific call was one of 15 made by the officials in the final two minutes of play. Of the calls made, the other 14 were correct calls or correct non-calls upon review.