Celtics

Celtics

MILWAUKEE -- Brad Stevens was coy as always when it came to revealing his starting five for Game 1 against Milwaukee.

He made a change with the goal being to limit Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo as well as those around him who tend to feast off the attention his presence tends to generate.

Mission accomplished on both fronts as Boston pulled away in the second half for a 112-90 Game 1 win and with the win, the Celtics assume home court advantage of the series.

Antetokounmpo, a front-runner for the league’s MVP award, was defended by the Celtics as well as anyone has all season.

Leading the defensive wall for Boston was Al Horford who also made an impact scoring the ball as well.

He came into the game having averaged a double-double of 19.5 points and 11.0 rebounds along with 6.5 assists in two meetings against them this season.

On Sunday, Horford had a double-double of 20 points and 11 rebounds to go with three assists.

The Celtics pulled ahead by as many as 15 points in the first half, only for the Bucks to bounce back in the second quarter to cut Boston’s halftime lead down to just 52-50.

Milwaukee scored six of the first eight points scored in the third quarter before Boston’s defense tightened up which triggered a 9-0 Celtics run leading to a Bucks time-out with 8:32 to play.

Boston continued to pull away in the third quarter behind a 34-15 run which put them comfortably ahead 88-71 going into the fourth quarter.

The third quarter surge came at a cost, however, with Aron Baynes suffering a left ankle injury. He was able to eventually rise to his feet and walk off on his own, but immediately went to the locker room with a member of the Celtics’ training staff and did not return even though team officials said he was available to return.

Here are the standout performers in Game 1 of the Boston-Milwaukee second-round series.

MVP

Al Horford: You will be hard-pressed to find another game since becoming a Celtic that Al Horford was as impactful as he was at both ends of the floor on Sunday. He made shots, rebounded the ball and most important, defended at a level against Giannis Antetokounmpo that we had not seen before. For the game, Horford had 20 points and 11 rebounds along with three assists.

Most Improved

Kyrie Irving: He was good in a couple of spurts in the first half, but he played with a much better pace and rhythm in the second half before finishing with a double-double of 26 points, 11 assists along with seven rebounds.

Sixth Man

Gordon Hayward: His scoring was instrumental in Boston getting control of the game while Kyrie Irving was on the bench resting. For the game, Hayward had 13 points.

Terry Rozier: He did a nice job of keeping the Celtics at a good pace before finishing with a near double-double off the bench with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Turning point

With the score tied at 56-all in the third quarter, Kyrie Irving scored on a driving runner in the lane. Boston would steadily pull away from there as they outscored the Bucks 32-15 to take a commanding 88-71 lead into the fourth quarter.

What’s next

Boston will be back in the Fiserv Forum for Game 2 on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET

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