Antetokounmpo helps Bucks spoil Celtics' home opener, 108-100

Antetokounmpo helps Bucks spoil Celtics' home opener, 108-100

BOSTON – Before Wednesday night’s tip-off against the Milwaukee Bucks, a recorded message from Gordon Hayward played on the Jumbotron above center court.
Hayward, out indefinitely after suffering a dislocated left ankle and fractured tibia in the first quarter of Boston’s 102-99 loss at Cleveland on Tuesday, had a simple message for those at the TD Garden about wishing he was there with his teammates.


They feel the same way, especially after coming up short for the second time in as many nights.
This time it was the Milwaukee Bucks getting it done down the stretch in defeating Boston 108-100.
Boston (0-2) has opened the season with back-to-back losses for the first time since 2013, Brad Stevens’ first season as the Celtics head coach.
After a fairly close start, Boston found itself down 58-53 at the half.
And just like their game at Cleveland the previous night, the Celtics were a different team in the third quarter.
Boston would pull ahead by as many as six points in the third before going into the fourth holding on to an 80-76 lead.
Jaylen Brown, who scored a career-high 25 points against the Cavs on Tuesday, was the catalyst to Boston’s third-quarter surge with nine of his 18 points in the quarter.
But Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, limited early on with foul trouble, seemed to get stronger and more impactful as the game progressed. He was one rebound shy of a double-double at the half, before finishing with 37 points and 13 rebounds.
Most of the fourth quarter was spent as a one-possession game, with neither team showing the ability to take over and pull away until the final few minutes as Milwaukee made just enough plays at both ends of the floor to keep the Celtics from overtaking them.


A weeks-late realization that the Celtics kind of did chase LeBron out of the East

A weeks-late realization that the Celtics kind of did chase LeBron out of the East

Jayson Tatum's Game 7 dunk did not influence LeBron James' decision to leave the Eastern Conference, no matter how much I will continue to say it daily. 

The truth, as we've all realized, is that LeBron's mind was made up long before Tatum boomed him right in the face. 

But while it wasn't about that specific play, it kind of was about Tatum dunks. And Jaylen Brown dunks. And Al Horford dunks. And these heartbreakers. 

For as much as we talk about the Celtics having a wide-open path to the NBA Finals now, the truth is they had that anyway if LeBron stayed with Cleveland. The ever-careful superstar had to know his options were to either stay in the East and get smoked by the Celtics or go out West and get smoked by the Warriors. If the results are the same, he might as well experience them in a nicer city. 

James' decision to go to the Lakers clearly wasn't about winning. If it were, he would have explored options like the Celtics, Rockets or taken the 76ers seriously.

His decision to leave the Cavaliers, however, had to at least be partially about winning. Just being home for Cleveland isn't enough; it was the fact that it could be a winner that got LeBron to return in the first place. With it no longer a title contender because of the Celtics' roster, staying in Cleveland was probably no longer worth it for James. 

What's interesting is that the Celtics knew it, too. Jaylen Brown's comments last week about wishing LeBron stayed in Cleveland were bang-on. Now that LeBron's gone, the Celtics' waltz to a Warriors matchup will be accompanied by talk from dumb people that they weren't able to do it when LeBron was in the conference. 

Here's why it's a smart move PR-wise on James' part: If LeBron stayed in the East and got beaten by the Celtics every year, people -- dumb people, but people nonetheless -- would talk about a torch being passed and how James was no longer dominant because he wasn't winning. 

The West presents a different narrative. Do you know what you're considered to be if you lose to the Warriors in the West? A victim. A victim of a super team and a victim of Kevin Durant's cowardice (the dumb people's words, not mine). 

So LeBron made an easy choice to leave Cleveland and the Celtics had to factor into it at least a little. If Kawhi Leonard eventually joins him, perhaps he can see the Celtics in the NBA Finals one of these years. That's a big "if" considering what we just saw Paul George do, but the fact of the matter is that LeBron's road to the finals was blocked whether he was in Cleveland or Los Angeles. 

Did LeBron run away from the Celtics? Not necessarily, but he clearly saw the effect the Celtics would have had on him if he stayed in Cleveland. It wasn't as pretty as L.A. 


Get to know the newest Celtic, Walt Lemon Jr.

Get to know the newest Celtic, Walt Lemon Jr.

BOSTON – Walter Lemon Jr. has agreed to a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics, becoming the third player ever with such a designation for the Celtics.

He played four years at Bradley before taking his game overseas to play in Hungary, Istanbul, Greece, Germany and later returning to the United States to play for the Ft. Wayne Mad Ants of the Gatorade League.

But what do we really know about the newest member of the Celtics family?

Here’s a look at five facts about Lemon who, as a player with a two-way contract, will spend up to 45 days with the Celtics while the rest of his time will be spent with Boston’s G-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws:

*Despite being 6-foot-3, Lemon Jr. is comfortable playing above the rim. That’s evident by him competing in Slam Dunk contests both in college (2014 and 2015) and in the G-League (2016).

*Finished his career at Bradley ranked among the school’s top-10 in scoring, assists, and steals.

*Best scoring game in the G-League last season was a 40-point outburst against the Maine Red Claws, the team he will be playing with most of this upcoming season.

*Became the first player in school history to be named the Missouri Valley Conference Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2014.

*On July 26 he will turn 26 years old.