During the Celtics’ series-opening defeat to the Bucks, there was a time when it seemed as if Jaylen Brown might never hit a shot.
Early in Game 2, it seemed as if he would not miss.
Brown scored 25 of his 30 points in the first half to help Boston defeat Milwaukee 109-86 on Tuesday night, tying the Eastern Conference semifinals at one game apiece.
“These are the playoffs. That concludes the conversation,” Brown said. “We cannot allow a single game to define the course of this series. We wanted to start aggressively.”
Brown rebounded from a poor shooting performance in Game 1, finishing 9 for 10 in the first half, including 5 for 5 from beyond the arc. Jayson Tatum chipped in with 19 points and eight rebounds. Grant Williams scored a game-high 21 points. Al Horford led all scorers with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“We wanted to come and play as if our season were on the line, and that is exactly what we did,” Brown said.
The series will continue with Game 3 in Milwaukee on Saturday.
Boston shot 20 of 43 from outside the arc and took advantage of 16 Milwaukee mistakes to score 24 points.
“Tonight, we wanted to match their aggressiveness and respond,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “A significant message was to demonstrate who we are.”
That is what they did.
The Celtics competed without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart, who was declared out of the game before to tip-off due to a bruised right thigh suffered in Game 1. Derrick White was inserted into the starting lineup, marking his first start in a playoff game since joining San Antonio in 2019.
“The ship must continue sailing. “Everyone has to do a little more,” Tatum said.
Even without Smart, the Celtics stifled Giannis Antetokounmpo after his triple-double in the series opener, restricting him to 28 points — the most of which came in the third quarter — nine rebounds, and seven assists. Jrue Holiday chipped in with 19 points and seven rebounds. Bobby Portis scored 13 points and pulled down eight rebounds.
Antetokounmpo said that the Celtics are doing everything possible to make life difficult for him on the inside.
“Strong bodies, physical activity, and physical activity — that’s pretty much it “‘He said. “It’s becoming more difficult to locate your colleagues.”
With Smart watching from the bench in street clothes, the Celtics scored the game’s opening seven points on route to an 18-3 advantage and forcing the Bucks into a fast timeout.
Throughout the run, Boston scored from a number of different locations on the floor, attacking both near the rim and within the paint. Additionally, it featured 12 points from beyond the arc, an area where the Celtics struggled for the whole of Game 1.
“That is not Wilt Chamberlain in the paint,” Udoka said. “We can descend and assault.”
Antetokounmpo missed his first six attempts before scoring on a slam with less than a minute remaining in the first session.
It didn’t stop Boston from taking a 32-21 lead into the second quarter, aided by Brown’s 17 points — a quarter-high for his career in the playoffs.
The Celtics maintained their share of the ball and put Milwaukee’s defence on its heels, finally taking a 65-40 lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, the Bucks chipped away at the Celtics’ 26-point advantage. With 18 points in the stanza, Antetokounmpo led the surge. A 10-0 Milwaukee surge late in the third quarter, assisted by a more than five-minute Celtics scoring drought, cut Boston’s advantage to 72-56.
Milwaukee continued to chip away at the lead, cutting it to 94-82 on Antetokounmpo’s pair of free throws. However, Tatum hit a 3-pointer and Boston pulled away.d away again.