Celtics

Al Horford, Kyrie Irving combine for 50 in Celtics' 96-89 win over Bucks

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Al Horford, Kyrie Irving combine for 50 in Celtics' 96-89 win over Bucks

MILWAUKEE – The tests just keep coming for Al Horford who found himself once again facing an extremely talented and versatile offensive player in Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Horford’s ability to defend Antetokounmpo better than anyone has this season along with having his best scoring game of the season, set the tone for Boston’s 96-89 win over Milwaukee.

The Celtics (3-2) have now won three in a row along with evening up the head-to-head series with the Bucks (3-2).

Horford finished with a near double-double this season, tallying 27 points and nine rebounds. Boston also got a strong game from Kyrie Irving who had 24 points and seven assists.

Antetokounmpo had a double-double with 28 points, 10 rebounds along with seven assists with most of his scoring coming when Horford wasn’t defending him. 

Horford, whose defensive dexterity has led to him defending talented bigs like Joel Embiid to perimeter-oriented, highly-skilled bigs like Sixers Ben Simmons and New York’s Kristaps Porzingis.

But Antetokounmpo presented the ultimate challenge for Horford, with the Greek Freak coming in having scored at least 30 points in each of Milwaukee’s first four games. 

However, the Bucks showed they were more than just a one-man show in the second quarter with contributions coming from several players. Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, the reigning rookie of the year, had 10 first-half points to help the Bucks rally from a double-digit deficit to lead Boston 44-43 at the half. 

The Celtics had a chance at the very end to go ahead, but a desperation 3-point heave by Marcus Smart hit the back of the rim and bounced out as time expired.

Milwaukee’s first-half momentum carried over into the third quarter as they pushed their lead up to 59-52 following a 3-pointer by Khris Middleton which led to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens calling a time-out with 7:03 to play in the quarter. 

Boston’s offense began to bog down in part because it became more predictable with Kyrie Irving and Horford being the only reliable sources scoring points for Boston. 

Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, who had a historically awesome performance in Boston’s 110-89 win over New York on Tuesday, struggled mightily most of the first half as they combined to miss 10 of their 11 shot attempts. 

Boston fell behind 59-52, but went on a 13-4 run fueled by back-to-back corner 3’s by Horford.

The Bucks would regain the lead courtesy of some nice moves around the rim by Greg Monroe, but the Celtics continued to stay within striking distance with the quarter ending with Boston ahead 72-69 following a buzzer-beating basket from Al Horford as time expired.

Boston’s lead was down to 84-78 following a 3-pointer by Tony Snell, leading Celtics head coach Brad Stevens to call a time-out with 5:51 to play. 

The Celtics came out of the time-out and got a 3-pointer from Horford with Boston’s control of the game never being an issue afterward.

Breakfast Pod: Rozier's cryptic tweet; Could Pats still hang with Chiefs or Rams?

Breakfast Pod: Rozier's cryptic tweet; Could Pats still hang with Chiefs or Rams?

What should we read into Terry Rozier's tweet? Are the Patriots still equipped to match the high-powered offenses of the Chiefs, Rams and Saints? That and more from the Early Edition and Boston Sports Tonight crews. 

0:28 - Chris Forsberg joins Early Edition with Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to talk about Terry Rozier’s cryptic tweet and break down his explanation.

5:47 - After the Chiefs/Rams shootout on Monday night, would the Patriots have a chance against either of those teams in the playoffs? Phil Perry debates with Gary Tanguay. 

10:43 - Tom Giles, Rob “Hardy” Poole, and DJ Bean discuss the Patrice Bergeron injury, which will force him to miss at least four weeks, and what this will mean to the Bruins who have already lost Zdeno Chara for an extended period of time.

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Celtics Talk Podcast: Yahoo's Vincent Goodwill on the Celtics' struggles

Celtics Talk Podcast: Yahoo's Vincent Goodwill on the Celtics' struggles

Yahoo Sports Senior NBA writer Vincent Goodwill talks Celtics struggles and the balance of power in the NBA. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Forsberg and Kyle Draper discuss the latest C's news:

1:03 - Sherrod, Chris and Kyle address the early-season struggles the Celtics have dealt with. "For whatever reason, this team cannot sustain its effort for 48 minutes this season." - Chris Forsberg

7:18 - For the first time in his tenure with the Celtics, Brad Stevens is receiving heavy criticism for his decisions and the lack of urgency from his team, but how much blame does he really deserve?

11:17 - The guys wonder if the team's rough start will cause Danny Ainge to shake things up and perhaps make a move before the trade deadline.

15:04 - Sherrod is joined by Goodwill to discuss a variety of topics from the Celtics, the balance of power in the NBA between East and West and any possible moves teams could make before the trade deadline.

29:28 - The guys hit on a few of Vincent Goodwill's answers and share what they're all thankful for when it comes to this NBA season so far.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE