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Led by Al Horford and Grant Williams, Celtics bottle up Bucks in Game 2

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Grant Williams in Celtics-Bucks Game 2

May 3, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics forward Grant Williams (12) reacts after making a three point basket in the second half during game two of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

As Giannis Antetokounmpo walked into the tunnel, a Boston fan pushed him in the arm. Antetokounmpo looked back, appearing more exhausted and confused than irate.

Even after the final buzzer sounded on the Celtics’ 109-86 Game 2 victory over the Bucks on Tuesday, Antetokounmpo couldn’t catch a break from getting bumped and flummoxed by someone in green.

Al Horford and Grant Williams led a spirited defensive performance on Antetokounmpo, who shot just 2-for-12 in the first half. Jaylen Brown scored 25 points of his 30 points (on 9-of-10 shooting) in the first half. Add hot 3-point shooting up and down the lineup, and the Celtics rendered this game uncompetitive early.

Boston jumped ahead 18-3 and led by double digits the final three quarters to tie the second-round series 1-1.

The Bucks can talk about stealing one in Boston ahead of Game 3 Saturday in Milwaukee. But the Celtics regained the upper hand in the series. Teams that split the first two games of a best-of-seven series at home have won the series 62% of the time. Marcus Smart seems far closer to returning to the Celtics than Khris Middleton to the Bucks

Antetokounmpo finished with 28 points on 27 shots, nine rebounds, seven assists and six turnovers. But by the time he got going in the third quarter, the game was nearly out of reach. Horford and Williams just repeatedly stood up to Antetokounmpo getting his chest into his defender.

Williams (21 points on 6-of-9 3-point shooting) also played a prominent role in Boston’s explosion from beyond the arc. Good defensively overall, Milwaukee is prone to surrendering triples. The Celtics shot 20-of-43 on 3-pointers (47%), making many of the looks they missed in Game 1.

Boston’s offense stagnated in the second half. But Jayson Tatum (29 points and eight assists) created enough to ensure Celtics’ lead, built up early, stayed comfortable.