MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee and Boston are viewed as two of the top teams in the East, and neither disappointed in a down-to-the-wire finish in their first game following the All-Star break.
In the end, the Bucks held on for a 98-97 win.
The Celtics got the ball with 3.5 seconds left following a shot clock violation, with a chance to escape with the win.
Boston got the ball in the hands of Kyrie Irving whose desperation, over-the-shoulder shot attempt hit the back of the rim and rolled out as time expired.
The Celtics’ two-game winning streak is snapped while the Bucks (43-14) put even more separation between themselves and the rest of the Eastern Conference.
Here are some of the game’s highlights:
WHAT WORKED: Getting the ball to Al Horford in the post was a priority for the Boston Celtics from the outset. The Milwaukee Bucks had no answer for him defensively as Horford seemingly went wherever he wanted to, when he wanted to get there. He had a near double-double in the first half (10 points, 8 rebounds) and finished with his ninth double-double this season (and third straight) with 21 points and 17 rebounds along with five assists and three blocks.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK: So much for playing in the All-Star Game helping Kyrie Irving on Thursday night. Irving’s shooting in the first half was about as abysmal as we’ve seen him since becoming a Celtic. Milwaukee is a good defensive team — one of the best in the NBA. But the majority of Irving’s misses simply involved him not finishing off plays when the opportunity to score was there as he missed nine of his 10 shot attempts in the first half. He would finish with just 22 points on 9-for-27 shooting.
☘️ BUCKS 98, CELTICS 97
KEY PLAY: Trailing 98-97 with 3.5 seconds to play, Boston's Marcus Smart had some trouble getting the ball inbounded before it ultimately wound up in the hands of Irving, whose over-the-shoulder shot in the lane hit the back of the rim as time expired.
SUPER STUD: Giannis Antetokounmpo was all that and then some on Thursday. He got off to a slow start, but soon picked up the pace and most importantly for the Bucks, his impact on the game. He would tally 30 points on 11-for-19 shooting to go with 13 rebounds and six assists.
SUPER SUB: Jaylen Brown continues to be an impact scorer for Boston off the bench. He had 15 points on Thursday, marking the 11th time in Boston’s last 12 games that he has reached double figures scoring.
SUPER DUD: Easily it was the Celtics bench minus Jaylen Brown. The rest of Boston’s subs didn’t come close to making the kind of impact needed. Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele were a combined 3-for-12 shooting with a number of those misses being wide open or lightly contested shots that they should have made.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Celtics literally hit the road following the game, making the one hour or so drive to Chicago for their Saturday night road game against the Bulls.
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