Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks dominated Game 1 against the Boston Celtics, winning 101-89 on the road.
Game 2 however was a complete opposite of Game 1, as the Celtics dominated the Bucks on both ends of the floor.
Leading for all 48 minutes, Boston defeated Milwaukee 109-86 in Game 2 to even this Eastern Conference Semifinals series at 1-1 and they were without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart in this one!
Not only did the Celtics’ defense step up big time in this game, holding the Bucks to 16.7% shooting from three-point range, but their offense delivered, as Boston shot 20-43 (46.5%) from deep.
Following his 12 point performance in Game 1 on Sunday, Jaylen Brown elevated his play to a new level against the Bucks, scoring 17 points in the first quarter and scoring a total of 30 points in this game.
On the losing-end of things, the Bucks struggled to find production outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday, who combined to score 47 points.
Khris Middleton’s absence really showed in this game and as a result, Milwaukee is heading back home for the next two games of this series not having the same amount of momentum they had after defeating the Celtics by 12 points in Game 1.
A lot happened in Tuesday night’s game and here is what we learned from the Celtics’ dominant Game 2 victory.
Giannis Antetokounmpo Can Score On Any Given Possession
In the first-half, Giannis Antetokounmpo was held to just five points on 2-12 shooting from the floor. At the end of the third quarter, Giannis had 23 points in the game on 10-23 shooting.
At any given moment in a game, the former two-time MVP can go on a scoring rampage and this was very clear in Game 2, as the Bucks’ All-Star big man went for 23 total points in the second-half.
We saw last year in the NBA Finals that Giannis Antetokounmpo was capable of doing, as he went for 50 points in Game 6 against the Phoenix Suns, but scoring just 28 points in Game 2 of this year’s series is not going to get the job done against the Celtics, especially when Khris Middleton is out and others are not stepping up.
Getting more opportunities to score in the paint from Giannis’ perspective opens up the floor tremendously for the rest of Milwaukee’s roster, especially guys like Grayson Allen and Pat Connaughton who are high-level perimeter shooting threats.
Grant Williams did a really great job defending Antetokounmpo for a vast majority of Tuesday’s game, but when he gets going, there is no better basketball player in the world.
The second-half of this game was all Giannis getting into the paint and finishing at the rim, which is why he needs to stay aggressive heading back home to Milwaukee.
Games 3 and 4 will decide the outcome of this series, metaphorically, and the Bucks are going to need their All-Star to have this “score-at-will” mindset for all 48 minutes of both games if they are to take control of this series and have a chance to go back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Boston Content To “Live And Die” By Three-Ball On Offense
In Game 1, the Boston Celtics shot 18-50 (36%) from three-point range and they missed a handful of open looks that the Milwaukee Bucks were giving them.
Well, it seems like Boston got a lot of shots up in practice the last few days, as the Celtics shot 20-43 (46.5%) from three-point range on Tuesday night, outscoring the Bucks by 51 points from beyond-the-arc.
Not really settling for mid-range shots, it seems like the Celtics are willing to “live and die” by the three-point shot in this series.
Overall, this is not that bad of a philosophy for them offensively not only because the Bucks are a strong defensive team on the interior, but because the Bucks themselves can get going from deep if left open.
Being able to match or outscore Milwaukee from three-point range is vital for the Boston Celtics in this series and in Game 2, they proved that they are more than capable of hitting their shots from deep.
The only question mark that remains in regards to Boston’s three-point shooting numbers is if others can get involved outside of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Grant Williams, as these three combined for 17 of the team’s 20 made three-pointers.
Al Horford Continues To Make A Huge Impact
When the Celtics brought Al Horford back this past offseason, many people questioned if the 35-year-old big man still had enough left in the tank to be an impact player for what was presumably a championship-caliber team.
He is not the same All-Star player he once was, but Horford has been fantastic so far in the NBA Playoffs and in particular, this series.
Through two games, Horford is averaging 11.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.5 steals and is shooting 40.0% from the floor, 35.7% from three-point range.
Recording two straight double-doubles, the veteran big man has made his presence felt defensively and he has done an excellent job switching players on ball-screens in this series.
Drawing the assignment on Giannis Antetokounmpo at times, Al Horford did a really nice job of keeping the All-Star in front of him and limiting Giannis’ ability to attack the basket, oftentimes forcing him to take a contested jump-shot.
Playing with a slow tempo and not forcing any action on offense, Horford has turned out to be the perfect player to calm things down for the Celtics and has proven to be a vital two-way factor for them in these playoffs.
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