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Boston Celtics Edge Bucks, 117-113: Rapid Reaction and Analysis

The Boston Celtics set a franchise record for made three-pointers and Kyrie Irving scored 28 points as they knocked off the previously unbeaten Milwaukee Bucks, 117-113.

The Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks rekindled their rivalry from last season’s first round of the playoffs on Thursday night, and the Bucks were eager to show the presumptive Eastern Conference favorites that the changes they made in the offseason would lead to results. The game was a battle of modern offenses that featured a perimeter-heavy attack from both sides with a total of 42 3 pointers taken by halftime.

This battle between Eastern Conference heavyweights offered spectators a glimpse at a possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup, and it certainly didn’t disappoint with the Celtics closing out the Bucks 117-113 in a tense finish.

Kyrie Irving led the way with 28 points and 7 assists, hitting three consecutive three-pointers in a 90-second span in the third quarter, as the Celtics set a franchise record for made three-pointers with 24.

Gordon Hayward gave Celtics fans a glimpse of the fluid, versatile, and dangerous line-ups the Celts can deploy when they finally hit their stride; his ball-handling and shooting give the Celtics an edge over just about every team, and the vision of a super team in-the-making came into full focus tonight.

Hayward exploded onto the scene in the first half and led all Celtics scorers with 13. Celtics had 16 assists in the first half as their ball movement led to open looks and mismatches. On the other side of the ball, the Celtics defended extremely well through the first three quarters.

The Bucks came into the matchup notorious for their new fast-paced, 3-point heavy attack but failed to capitalize on their opportunities because of the hawkish Boston defense. The Celtics have defended the perimeter extremely well for years under Brad Stevens and came into tonight’s matchup with opposing teams shooting only 27.4 percent from the 3-point line.

The Celtics stayed true to form with a resounding effort in the 3rd quarter to stretch the lead to 15, led by a heroic performance from Kyrie Irving. The Celtics All-Star guard is the NBA’s ultimate release valve, able to generate all manner of good looks from seemingly broken plays.

The Bucks made a rousing comeback in the 4th quarter putting up 12 unanswered points to erase the deficit built by the Celts in their ravenous 3rd quarter. The Celts felt the pressure from all over as the offensive well dried up.

 

The Celtics were deserted by the very 3-ball that built their lead, hitting on only 4-of-13 from behind the arc in the fourth and the Bucks took advantage of every inch of space the Celtics gave. Giannis Antetokounmpo was his usual destructive, supernatural self and finished with 33 points on 13-of-22 shooting going to the line 11 times.

The game came down to the wire in the final seconds as the Bucks were one Eric Bledsoe missed free throw away from tying the game. The Celtics defense, however, held fast in the end as Al Horford put the game on ice with some clutch free throws of his own.

The Celtics ended the Bucks unbeaten run, and best start in franchise history since the 71-72 season. Boston improved to 6-2 with its fourth straight win and will go on to play the Pacers in Indianapolis on Saturday night at 7:30.

Next: 15 Clutchest Celtics of All-Time

History Made:

Marcus Morris made history tonight, hitting the 20th 3-pointer of the night which was a franchise record for the Celtics with 1:15 left on the clock in the 3rd quarter. The Celts would finish with 24 3’s for the evening, just one shy of the NBA single-game record of 25.



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