Celtics

Brown and C's dominate Bucks in Game 2, 120-106

Brown and C's dominate Bucks in Game 2, 120-106

BOSTON – There would be no late-game desperation heaves or clutch baskets down the stretch. 

The Boston Celtics have been a team that has left fans on the edge of their seats, providing the kind of drama that always makes for good TV.

But there would be none of that on Tuesday as the Boston Celtics steadily pulled away for a comfortable 120-106 Game 2 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Boston leads the best-of-seven series 2-0 now, with Games 3 and 4 in Milwaukee.

Jaylen Brown finished with a career-high 30 points which led six double-figure scorers for Boston. 

Meanwhile, Milwaukee was once again led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 30 points, with Khris Middleton chipping in with 25. 

Boston spent most of the first half with a lead, but didn’t start to separate itself from the Bucks until the third quarter. 

That’s when Brown scored 10 of his team-high 30 points and Shane Larkin had five points in the final 26 seconds to push Boston’s lead up to 90-75 going into the fourth. 

There was plenty of time left on the clock, but the Celtics had taken all the fight out of the Bucks well before the fourth quarter rolled around. 

Many of the same problems the Bucks experienced in Game 1 – lots of turnovers, shoddy rebounding on the defensive boards and an inability to keep Boston from playing bully-ball with lots of points in the paint – were just as pronounced in Game 2. 

Boston winning in such a convincing fashion did not seem all that likely in the game’s early stages. 

The first few minutes were more about both teams feeling each other out than anything else. 

After Milwaukee went ahead 13-11, Boston went on a five-point spurt capped off by a powerful dunk by Brown which led to a time-out for the Bucks. 

Boston continued to put some distance between itself and the Bucks, with a multitude of Celtics getting the job done. 

Leading the charge once again was Al Horford whose presence and play-making was problematic for Milwaukee’s post defenders. He had 16 points, five rebounds and four assists.

Brown was aggressive at both ends of the floor for Boston, getting it done scoring-wise and defensively. 

And Boston’s bench was being carried by Marcus Morris who continues to be a matchup nightmare that was in bully-ball mode with a mix of mid-range jumpers and 3-pointers. He continues to lead Boston’s second unit, tallying 18 points – tops among all reserves for both teams.

Antetokounmpo had an extremely efficient first half with 18 points on 8-for-9 shooting. And his favorite sidekick, Middleton, was on pace for another nice game with 10 points at the half on 4-for-6 shooting. 

And the Bucks were shooting 62.2 percent from the field at the half, compared to 49 percent by the Celtics. 

However, Boston had a 60-51 lead at the half and the reasons were obvious.

The Celtics gave us a glimpse of how the game would play out from the outset when Horford missed a shot in the paint only for Brown to clean up the miss for an easy put-back basket. 

Boston wound up with a decisive 20-9 advantage in second-chance points, and their bench had a 41-25 edge.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Bean: Kawhi in Cleveland makes great theater for everyone

Other than LeBron Watch, Kawhi Watch will likely be the most captivating Watch of the NBA offseason,  and there's obviously a chance the two end up in the same place. Regardless of what happens with LeBron, I've officially decided where I want Kawhi to land. 

Cleveland. 

I've got my reasons, but I'll start with why I'm not clamoring for the C's to get one of the five best players in the league. Yes, the C's can offer the best package, but I don't want them to make an offer the Spurs can't refuse. I don't want them to trade Jaylen Brown and the Sacramento pick for a flight risk. I don't want them to trade Kyrie Irving. I want them to be loaded, as they currently are, and set to add to that in the future. 

Leonard supposedly wants to be traded to the Lakers. The more well-connected basketball reporters have noted the Spurs wouldn't have any motivation to turn the Lakers into a Western Conference powerhouse, which makes sense. 

So, if it's not going to be the Lakers, make it the Cavaliers. 

This might sound ridiculous, but I want LeBron James to be a character in this Celtics group's run. One of the things that made the 2017-18 Celtics' run so exciting was that it culminated in a showdown with LeBron, the best player in the league and the centerpiece of great Celtics series past. 

I don't want the Celtics to go on runs with LeBron in a different time zone. I want battling (and beating) the best player of this generation to be part of what the Tatum Era does. If the Cavs can land Leonard, maybe that will keep James from bolting in free agency. 

They're also rumored to be inquiring about Kemba Walker's availability from Charlotte to help surround LeBron with another star.

To be fair, I wrote last week that I'm fine with LeBron going to the Lakers and even forming a super team with Kawhi and Paul George. That's because I think either that team or the Warriors would be all tuckered out by the time they got to the finals against a Celtics team that just waltzed through the East. 

That wouldn't be as fun though, especially if the Lakers kept getting eliminated by Golden State. If the Celtics have another championship run coming during the final years of LeBron's career, I want it to involve a Kyrie/LeBron matchup. I certainly want it to involve a competitive underdog, and I don't trust the 76ers for that yet. Considering they probably wouldn't be able to get much else, a team of LeBron, Kawhi and a bunch of junk still wouldn't be favored against the Celtics at full health. 

If LeBron goes somewhere West this offseason, I'd still want the Cavs to get Kawhi. Assuming Kawhi actually plays, he'd at least keep the Cavaliers a playoff team and an interesting opponent. 

Could the Cavaliers actually get Kawhi? I don't see why not. If his status as a player who can opt out after next season scares some teams away, the eighth overall pick and whatever they could get for Kevin Love would already make their offer better than whatever the Lakers would try to scrape together. Sacramento could always trump everyone by offering the second overall pick for Leonard, but that would be stupid. Then again, sometimes the Kings are stupid. 

Kawhi in Boston? Not at the likely price, and not if it means that much risk. LA? Predictable. Put Kawhi in Cleveland, keep the East exciting and give LeBron a real decision to make. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

BREAKFAST POD: Jaylen and Rozier for Kawhi?

1:43 - Chris Mannix joined Gary Tanguay and Kyle Draper on Early Edition to discuss if the Celtics could trade up in the draft, and if the Celtics have any chance of acquiring Kawhi Leonard.

6:35 - Phil Perry talks about Albert Breer’s report that the Patriots talked with four teams (Lions, Titans, 49ers, Texans) about trading Rob Gronkowski. We also hear from Holley, Merloni, and DJ Bean about Tom Brady commenting “cuarenta y cinco” in response to an Instagram post about when he’ll retire.

10:34 - Lou Merloni and Chris Gasper debate how important it is for the Red Sox to avoid the Wild Card play-in game and win the AL East over the Yankees. 

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NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE