Celtics

Celtics-Bucks takeaways: Jaylen looks sharp in return

Celtics

The Boston Celtics earned a much-needed victory in their return home to TD Garden on Monday night.

The Celtics took down the second-place Milwaukee Bucks to snap their three-game skid and get the bitter taste of their West Coast road trip out of their mouths. Jayson Tatum led the charge with a season-high 42 points (16-for-25) and his sidekick Jaylen Brown also made a strong impact in his return from a nagging hamstring injury. The Celtics offense was firing on all cylinders as it notched 31 assists on its 43 field goals.

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Here are three quick takeaways from the C's 117-103 win, which brings them back to .500 at 14-14. They'll have a few days off before hosting Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.

Jaylen Brown looks sharp in return

Brown has missed 14 of the Celtics' 28 games with a hamstring issue. Monday night marked his first game since he re-aggravated the injury on Dec. 1 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. He simply hasn't looked 100 percent in most of the games he's appeared in this season, but he wasted no time making his presence felt vs. Milwaukee.

The Celtics ran a play for their All-Star wing in the game's opening seconds, and Brown capitalized with a corner 3.

There was a minor scare five minutes into Brown's return as he was seen limping after bumping knees with Bobby Portis. C's fans were able to breathe a sigh of relief as he shook it off and returned to the game.

 

Brown finished with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting (3-of-7 from 3), five assists, four rebounds, two steals, and one block. It undoubtedly was an encouraging showing from the 25-year-old, so the Celtics will keep their fingers crossed and hope his hamstring woes are a thing of the past.

They saw Monday what Brown's presence can do for the entire offense, especially when it comes to creating space for Tatum to do damage.

Defense bounces back after rough road trip

That West Coast trip was one the Celtics will want to forget. They went 1-4 and their defense was uncharacteristically poor as they allowed at least 111 points in each game for an average of 119.2.

They appeared to be on track for another lackluster outing when the Bucks took a 30-21 lead into the second quarter. Then, Boston flipped a switch and looked like the defensive-minded team we watched prior to their trip out west. They held Milwaukee to 17-for-47 shooting (2-for-14 from 3) in the second and third quarters and didn't look back.

The Celtics' defense on two-time NBA MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, in particular, was admirable. The league's second-leading scorer was invisible for most of the contest and finished with 20 points (7-for-14), eight rebounds, and four turnovers. Boston will take those numbers from arguably the game's best player 10 times out of 10.

Grant Williams shows off the range

Tatum wasn't the only scorching-hot Celtics player from beyond the arc Monday night. Grant Williams chimed in by hitting five of his seven 3-point attempts and finishing with 17 points in 29 minutes off the bench.

Williams has sneakily been hot from deep all season long. The 23-year-old is now 12-for-23 from long range this month and 43-for-95 (45.3 percent) on the season. His 17 points vs. the Bucks marked his second-highest point total so far in the campaign, trailing only his 18-point effort back on Nov. 17 vs. Atlanta.