Celtics

Celtics-Bucks Takeaways: Kemba Walker powers C's as others come up short

Celtics-Bucks Takeaways: Kemba Walker powers C's as others come up short

Following Wednesday night’s home loss to the Detroit Pistons, there was a lot of talk among the Celtics players about the need to bring forth better effort against Milwaukee. 

While the effort was indeed better against the Bucks, the Celtics once again came up short in Thursday’s 128-123 loss to Milwaukee. 

Boston trailed by as many as 27 points, only to be within two possessions (127-121) with 51.1 seconds to play.

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On the ensuing Celtics possession, Boston inched closer following a Jayson Tatum dunk. 

Marcus Smart would force a turnover, but his 3-point shot moments later was off the mark which all but sealed the Celtics’ fate in their fifth loss in  their last seven games. 

The Celtics are too good to get caught up in moral victories. 

But clawing back from such a huge deficit on the road against the best team in the NBA, certainly has to be seen as one of the positives that Boston will take away from Thursday’s loss.

KEMBA WALKER

He was pretty hard on himself following the loss to Detroit on Wednesday, letting everyone know that he has to play better in order for the Celtics to be the best version of itself going forward. 

Walker was all that and then some for Boston against the Bucks, finishing with a game-high 40 points on 14-for-23 shooting in addition to grabbing 11 rebounds for his second double-double this season.

It was the kind of performance that the Celtics were hoping would set a tone that others would follow. 

But for most of Thursday’s game, Walker had very little support offensively from his teammates. 

So as much as Walker will feel as though he could have done more to help the team win, that’s just not true. 

He did exactly what the best player on the floor is supposed to do in games against the best of the best. 

But far too many of his teammates struggled at both ends of the floor which can’t happen on the road against an elite team such as the Bucks.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

His numbers to the surprise of no one, were impressive as he finished with a monster double-double of 32 points and 17 rebounds along with dishing out seven assists and blocking a couple shots. 

But what really stood out about Antetokounmpo’s play against the Celtics was the ability he has shown to pick his spots when to be uber-aggressive and when to keep the ball moving and find one of the bevvy of shooters he’s usually surrounded by when he’s on the floor. 

He’s the league’s reigning MVP and the more you watch him play, the clearer it becomes that as good as he was a year ago, he has made significant strides in his play. 

Much of the focus will center on how he’s shooting the 3-point shot better. But the real area of growth in his game, is the feel he has for how to play. 

And that’s why the Celtics, the Miami Heat, Philly … any team they face in the East will have their hands full against a Milwaukee team which is led by the best player on the planet right now who is only getting better with time. 

ROLE PLAYERS’ IMPACT

As good as Giannis Antetokounmpo was on Thursday, the players surrounding him were just as impressive. 

Donte DiVencenzo had a career-high 19 points off the bench while Khris Middleton (23 points), Brook Lopez (16 points) and George Hill off the bench (12 points) were solid as well. 

But what makes this Milwaukee team so special is that in addition to scoring from lots of different players, they also defend at an elite level. 

Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum both struggled mightily when it came to making shots, and the Bucks defense had a lot to do with that. 

Because of Antetokounmpo’s status as one of the NBA’s best players, the play of those around him gets very little fanfare. 

But make no mistake about it. 

The Bucks are indeed a championship-caliber team with the kind of depth that causes problems for most teams, the Celtics included.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Suns-Celtics, which begin Saturday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

Kendrick Perkins: We just have to continue to use our voices

Kendrick Perkins: We just have to continue to use our voices

Over the last few days, we've seen several notable athletes take to the streets to protest George Floyd's murder and the racial injustices that continue to plague the country.

Boston Celtics star Jaylen Brown led the charge on Saturday, driving 15 hours from Boston to Atlanta to organize a peaceful protest with fellow NBAer Malcolm Brogdon.

Brown's Celtics teammates Marcus Smart, Enes Kanter, and Vincent Poirier followed suit on Sunday with a peaceful protest in Boston, showing the tremendous impact athletes can have on their communities when they let their voices be heard.

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Monday on Early Edition, former Celtics big man Kendrick Perkins discussed how Brown and other athletes affect social change when they decide to speak up.

"We just gotta continue to use our voices. We can't change racism overnight, but we can change the system, and our voices need to be heard. It don't matter what race you come from. It's just speak what's right, and stand on what you believe in. It's leading by example.

"When you look at even a guy like Stephen Jackson who I think set the bar, and then all of a sudden Jaylen Brown who's a younger guy in this league says, 'Oh, if Stephen Jackson is out here, a retired player, and he's standing on the frontline, then let me do it. And then all of a sudden, guess what, Jaylen Brown, he influenced Enes Kanter. It's a chain reaction, so whether you're a veteran or a young guy, that don't matter. It's just about taking a stand and taking a trend."

As Perkins notes, when one player finds the courage to speak up, it starts a chain reaction. Some may hesitate to use their voice in fear of the backlash they may receive, but now more than ever it's important to put that fear aside and stand up for what's right.

There's no doubt Brown's admirable actions influenced other athletes and public figures to take a stand, and that's something we should start to see more of in our society.

You can watch the full interview with Perkins below:

Brad Stevens breaks Twitter silence to endorse need for change after George Floyd's death

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USA TODAY Sports

Brad Stevens breaks Twitter silence to endorse need for change after George Floyd's death

Brad Stevens isn't very active on Twitter. In fact, his last tweet before Monday came during March Madness in 2017 when his former team, Butler University, was making its NCAA Tournament run.

Stevens broke his three-year Twitter silence Monday morning with two tweets, both of which stressed the importance of making real change to combat racial injustice in America following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis last week.

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The first tweet from Stevens was his support of the NBA Coaches Association's statement on Floyd's death.

The second tweet was a message from Stevens regarding former President Barack Obama's article that he wrote for Medium titled, "How to Make This Moment The Turning Point For Real Change.” 

Boston Celtics players have taken an active role over the last week in calling for change and engaging in peaceful protests.

Celtics guard and Georgia native Jaylen Brown made the long drive from Boston to Atlanta to lead a peaceful protest Saturday. Celtics centers Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, and guard Marcus Smart also joined protesters in Boston on Sunday.

The Celtics released their own statement Sunday, which included the following passage: "We stand with our players, employees, partners, and fans in being committed to championing the change we need.”