The Milwaukee Bucks opened their second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs with the Boston Celtics with an emphatic 101-89 victory at TD Garden, with the defending NBA champions putting in an extraordinary defensive effort in the home of the highest ranked defensive unit in the league.
Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s second playoff triple-double (24 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists), the Bucks won their fourth straight game without injured star Khris Middleton by getting “big” again with Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis in the front row.
But rather than spinning in a four-wing replacement scheme like he did against Chicago in the first round, Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer kept at least one big man in the game throughout the game to offset Boston’s strong interior presence of Al Horford and Robert Williams III. Bigger bodies and active perimeter defense led by Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews harassed Celtics stars Jayson Tatum (21 points on 6 of 18 shooting) and Jaylen Brown (12 of 4 of 13) all afternoon .
Portis had a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds while Lopez added 10 rebounds, six points and three blocked shots.
Grayson Allen continued his solid play at both ends of the court for the Bucks with 11 points and three steals while Pat Connaughton (8 points) and Jevon Carter (7) joined him on the bench.
THE SCORE OF THE BOX: Dollars 101, Celtics 89
Game 2 is in Boston Tuesday night at 6 p.m.
The Bucks closed out the win by stretching a 78-70 lead early in the quarter to 17 in the opening 5½ minutes thanks to a 14-5 run that saw them shut out Tatum and Brown over the course of this period. From there, the Celtics simply couldn’t muster enough firepower — or make enough saves — to stage a legitimate comeback.