MILWAUKEE – You knew it had to happen at some point in this series.
As good as Terry Rozier was in the first two games against Milwaukee, you knew the third-year guard was going to have a not-so-great game.
And in the Celtics' 116-92 Game 3 loss to the Bucks Friday night, Rozier’s struggles in many ways magnified the issues impacting the entire team.
Following the loss, an extremely subdued Rozier addressed the media.
“They came in and punched us in the mouth pretty early,” Rozier said. “We never responded.”
After averaging 23 points in Boston’s first two games of the series, Scary Terry could deliver just nine points on 2-for-7 shooting and for the first time in this series, he was outplayed by Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe, who had 17 points (just four less than he scored in Games 1 and 2 combined) on an efficient 8-for-13 shooting.
While disappointed with the outcome, the Celtics are still in control with a 2-1 series lead heading into Game 4 here on Sunday.
“I think we’ll be better on Sunday,” said Boston’s Al Horford.
Here are five other takeaways from the Game 3 loss:
One of the starkest contrasts between Boston’s play in the first two games and what we saw in Game 3 was the higher number of turnovers committed by the Celtics. Credit the Bucks for ratcheting up their defense to force 18 turnovers resulting in 20 points, a significant increase over the 11 turnovers per game Boston averaged in Games 1 and 2. Still, the Celtics had their share of unforced ones as well.
“Sometimes you turn the ball over, it’s something that you do, sometimes it’s something they do,” said Rozier. “I know I’m not going to play perfect as far as turnovers.”
If there has been one area of concern for the Celtics throughout this series, it has been the team’s overall inability to force more Milwaukee misses. The Bucks came into Game 3 shooting the ball better from the field than any team in the playoffs despite not having a victory to show for it. Game 3 was more of the same with the Bucks spending a good chunk of the game shooting better than 60 percent before finishing at a highly efficient 57 percent shooting clip.
Bench players tend to play better at home than on the road and that held true for the Bucks in Game 3. Milwaukee’s second unit absolutely dominated their Boston counterparts in all aspects of play, from scoring to defense to overall impact on the game. Jabari Parker, who complained earlier about his lack of playing time in Games 1 and 2, led all reserves with 17 points. And overall, Milwaukee’s bench tallied 50 points compared to 34 for Boston’s backups. The Celtics’ second unit has to play better – a lot better – on Sunday if they are to avoid returning to Boston with the series tied at two.
The spotlight shined brighter on him than any other Celtic going into Game 3 and Rozier, by his own admission, didn’t get the job done. It was more than him shooting 2-for-7 from the field and scoring nine points – 14 below his scoring average in Games 1 and 2. It was more than the fact that after zero turnovers in the first two games, he turned the ball over five times on Friday – four coming in the first quarter. The biggest problem for Rozier was that the aggressiveness we saw in Games 1 and 2, was nowhere to be found. It’s one thing to miss shots but it seemed Rozier, for the first time in this series, was not attacking the defense. Bucks guard Matthew Dellavedova picking him up full court certainly looked to be a factor. It’ll be interesting to see what, if any, adjustments Rozier and the Celtics make for Game 4.
In order to get back into a series like this, Milwaukee needed an unexpected spark of some kind and in Game 3 that was Thon Maker. His impact went far beyond the 14 points he scored on just 3-for-5 shooting. His activity defensively as a rim-protector (he had five blocked shots) along with making Boston’s defense pay when they left him open behind the 3-point line (he was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc), all added up to him being that game-changer that Milwaukee absolutely had to have to emerge with the win.