Celtics

Celtics still have room to grow after gritty Game 1 win

Celtics still have room to grow after gritty Game 1 win

BOSTON -- Aron Baynes had a moment or two when he grimaced in pain only to tell the media afterward that he was alright. 

Jaylen Brown and Bojan Bogdanovic had some words that led to Bogdanovic pushing Jayson Tatum and Brown being called for a technical foul. 

There was rarely a minute of play between these two that would pass in which someone wasn’t getting knocked to the ground or shoved out of the way under the basket between these two teams looking to take control of the series which began with Game 1 on Sunday. 

This Boston-Indiana playoff series was one in which both sides have talked often about the physicality needed by both in order to win. 

Indiana drew first blood on Sunday only for Boston to deliver the perfect counter-punch in the third quarter which is when the Celtics went into full-blown takeover mode before pulling away for an 84-74 win. 

If you take away the third quarter when Boston outscored Indiana 26-8, this was an evenly-played matchup. 

But after the first half on Sunday, the Celtics shifted into another gear at both ends of the floor, resulting in an absolutely dominant performance.

Gordon Hayward saw Boston’s success in the third quarter coming down to two things. 

“We did a really good job guarding and being physical,” Hayward told reporters. “Making them, same thing, making all their shots difficult. We had a couple breakdowns at the end of the half but for the most part, I thought we were pretty solid defensively. If we guard like that, we didn’t play very well on the offensive end. We still gave ourselves a really good chance.”

And that has to be the big takeaway from Boston. 

Even on an afternoon when they did not execute anywhere close to what they need to in order to continue forging ahead in the playoffs, there were a number of important takeaways from the victory.

First and foremost, they won the game. There’s a 77 percent chance that the team that wins Game 1 will win the series, so time is definitely on their side. 

Second, they won and no one got hurt. Injuries have become a mounting concern for Boston. They are currently without Marcus Smart (oblique tear) who will be out for all of this series and potentially most if not all of the second. 

And maybe most significant, Boston won the game without anyone getting hurt and did so knowing that they can play a lot better - especially on offense - than what we saw on Sunday. 

For the game, Boston shot 36.4 percent from the field and 35.7 percent (10-for-28) from 3-point range. 

Defensively, they limited the Pacers to 33.3 percent shooting from the field and 22.2 percent shooting from 3-point range which included a defensively suffocating third quarter that limited the Pacers to eight points on 2-for-19 shooting from the field. 

“I thought we got good looks,” Indiana’s Doug McDermott told reporters after the loss. “So can’t hang our heads too much. Shots weren’t falling.”

The Celtics will also be in the market to improve their shooting performance in Game 2 on Wednesday.

“We have to get a lot better to make sure we get the looks we want and then knock them in,” Stevens said. “We missed some open looks in the first half, but there were also times where we didn’t own our space and they were very physical with us.”

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Bucks fans' chant suggests they're pretty excited to face Celtics

Bucks fans' chant suggests they're pretty excited to face Celtics

As the Milwaukee Bucks put the finishing touches on a first-round sweep, their fans were already looking ahead.

The Bucks officially set up a second-round NBA playoff series with the Boston Celtics by beating the Pistons in Detroit on Monday night. And before that game even finished, fans at a Game 4 watch party in Milwaukee had the C's on their minds.

This is a perfect revenge matchup for the Bucks after Boston ousted them in the first round last season. Milwaukee star Giannis Antetokounmpo admitted as much Monday night after his team's series-clinching win.

But here's a quick warning for Bucks fans: Be careful what you wish for. The Celtics are riding high off a first-round sweep of the Indiana Pacers, and the last time another fanbase expressed its desire to play a Boston team was New York Yankees fans ahead of the 2018 American League Division Series. And we all know how that ended.

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Celtics to face Bucks in second round of the NBA playoffs

Celtics to face Bucks in second round of the NBA playoffs

To nobody's surprise, the Boston Celtics are going to play the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

The Bucks, the East's No. 1 seed, had the best record in the NBA last season (60-22) and faced little resistance in their first-round matchup. They easily swept the Detroit Pistons in four games. The Pistons' star player, Blake Griffin, was far from healthy, and that played a role in the Bucks' series win.

This is the second year in a row that the Celtics will play the Bucks in the playoffs. Last year, the No. 2 seeded Celtics defeated the Bucks in a series that spanned seven games. The home team won every game in that series.

The Bucks will be a tough opponent for the Celtics. Potential league MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is a matchup nightmare, and he averaged 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game during the regular season. And around him, the Bucks have solid depth.

In their regular season series, the Celtics posted only a 1-2 record against the Bucks, winning their first meeting in November but coming up just short in their other two games. Antetokounmpo averaged 31 points per game against the Celtics, so slowing him down will be key to finding success in the series.

The Celtics will open on the road in this series, as the first two games will be in Milwaukee. The Celtics will have to ensure that they get off to a solid start and continue to fare well on the road, something they struggled to do last postseason (1-7 record in eight road games, 0-3 in Milwaukee).

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