Bucks shred Celtics to level series
MANILA, Philippines – Milwaukee flipped the switch behind Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton as the Bucks bounced back big from a woeful Game 1 showing in the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.
Antetokounmpo led with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists and Khris Middleton sparked an early decisive run as the Bucks dominated the Boston Celtics, 123-102, to level the best-of-seven series at 1-1 on Tuesday, April 30 (Wednesday, May 1, Manila time).
Middleton fired 28 points, 21 from beyond the arc on a 7-of-10 clip, and grabbed 7 boards as the Bucks outscored the Celtics, 39-18, in a dominant third-quarter showing.
“We were just clicking as a team,” said MVP contender Antetokounmpo.
Eric Bledsoe also helped set the tone for the top-seeded Bucks to finish with 21 points, 5 assists and 3 rebounds.
"We got an ass-whupping in Game 1, so we had to get Game 2," Antetokounmpo said. "It's tough when a team comes into your home and gets the two first games so we had that in the back of our minds. We came out, we played hard, we moved the ball, we trusted one another and that's why we got a win."
Kyrie Irving, who had game-highs of 26 points and 11 assists in the Celtics’ Game 1 win, struggled with 9 points on a woeful 4-of-18 shooting.
Middleton accounted for 7 of the Bucks’ 20 three-pointers, including back-to-back treys in a 10-0 run in the 2nd quarter that turned a 34-38 deficit into a 44-38 advantage.
From there, the Bucks never let up and erected a 25-point advantage by the end of the 3rd quarter, 98-73, that ballooned to as many as 31 points, 114-83, in the final period.
“Obviously that’s more what we’re accustomed to seeing,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “Collectively we played better.”
Marcus Morris paced the Celtics with 17 points while Jaylen Brown (16 points) and Al Horford (15 points) also wound up in double figures.
Antetokounmpo said the Bucks will need to come up with more of the same when the series shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Monday.
"We've just got to pick it up from where we left off this game," he said. – With a report from Agence France-Presse