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Game 1 against the Bucks was ugly, but the Celtics can remedy it

The Bucks may not have walked on the logo on purpose, but they did walk over the Celtics in Game 1 on Sunday. (Author: Gardener)

BucksHey, at least that wasn't the worst-case scenario, Celtics fans. The Celtics didn't have twice as many turnovers as 2-point baskets, but they did have a slightly less lousy 18-10 ratio there. Oh, and no player visiting Milwaukee stomped on the Kyrie-style Celtics logo, at least as far as we could tell. Look, it could have been worse. All right, so maybe not much worse. The Bucks may not have walked on the logo on purpose, but they did walk over the Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Sunday, going 101-89 in a game that wasn't as close as the last lead. The Celtics, who had an encouraging sweep of the mindless nets in the first round that had visions of an 18th banner dancing in our heads, looked good for about half a quarter and went up with a 22-14 lead a Grant Williams 3-pointer with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. But the Bucks took the lead, 25-24, ending the first quarter on an 8-0 run, went into halftime with a 10-point lead (56-46) and refused to allow the Celtics to play any meaningful game run in the second half. Even when Giannis Antetokounmpo (disciplined 24 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) put in third place with his fourth foul at 3:37 and the Bucks took a 72:66 lead, the visitors extended their lead before the end of the quarter. The de facto dagger to better starting thinking in Game 2 came when the chronically underrated Jrue Holiday hit a three to set the Bucks up to play 92-75 with 7:36. If the Celtics needed a reminder that the Bucks are the defending NBA champions who had no intention of vacating the throne voluntarily, they got a tough beating in the form of their first double-digit loss since a 128-107 win over the Pacers on February 27 The Celtics were the best defensive team in the NBA this season. The Bucks were the best defensive team on the court Sunday. They tracked Jayson Tatum (who finished with 21 points on 6-of-18 shooting and didn't score a field goal until just under seven minutes remained in the first half) across every inch of the floor. They fought every hit to the rim, essentially forcing the Celtics to play a 3-pointer-or-bust offense, which they accepted only too readily. The Celtics finished 28 of 84 from the field, including 18 of 50 of three. The 28 field goals were a season low. That's right, as in her entire story. They aided the Bucks' fierce defensive efforts by being careless with the ball (18 turnovers) and missing too many open shots. And there's no getting around it: Jaylen Brown (12 points on 4-of-13 shooting) was miserable. He settled for questionable threes, was careless with the ball from dribbling and passing (7 turnovers), and slipped into his tunnel vision habits (which he never really fixed, if we're being honest) when he tried to attack. Too often for such a good player, he can look like the villainous "Space Jam" monsters have stolen his instincts, if not his skills. The Bucks are playing without their second-best offensive player, Khris Middleton. In fact, without Brown Sunday, the Celtics were, at least in remotely decent form. He needs to be exponentially better in Game 2, and he should be. As frustrating as the final 3½ quarters of Game 1 were and as tedious as losing outright at home is, it's not necessarily a bad thing that the Celtics got a dose of their own medicine - meaning the suffocating defense in particular - early in this row. They're an intelligent, seasoned team made up of the best player in the universe and a supporting cast of players who know their roles and execute them well. The Bucks believe they are the better team in this series, and they have a year-long banner to back that belief. That doesn't mean they will be, but all of us - the Celtics players more than anyone else - had better realize that this is going to be a grind for every minute of every game. Game 1's physicality was somewhat reminiscent of an '80s Celtics Sixers series. It was also a reminder that even the best teams face the toughest challenges along the way; You will recall that in 2008 the Celtics had to win two seven-game series before beating the Lakers in the Six-Game Finals. Ime Udoka and the Celtics coaches and players know exactly what needs to happen in Game 2. Tatum needs to find a way to get comfortable shots. Brown can't play that incoherently. The supporting players must throw candid looks. And they need to match, if not surpass, the Bucks' defensive intensity, which means Marcus Smart's knee better be fine. What happened in Game 1 was ugly but it can be fixed and we know these Celtics are resilient. That wasn't the worst-case scenario on Sunday. The worst-case scenario is if such a debacle happens again.

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Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown need to advance to the semifinals if Celtics have any hope of turning the streak around

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had a 10-for-31 combined shooting and 3-of-13 from 2-pointers in Game 1 against Milwaukee. (Author: Gardener)

Jaylen BrownJayson Tatum and the Celtics will need to pull themselves together and match the intensity of defending NBA Champion Milwaukee if they have any chance to bounce back from a disappointing performance in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals game. If the Celtics are to defeat reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks in this series, then they need their top two players to sustain themselves, realizing their level of play, which was good enough against the overwhelmed Brooklyn Nets, won't get a passing grade here . and embrace the greatness of those moments. This is the Eastern Conference Semifinals and the Celtics have a shot at greatness, a shot at making the NBA Finals if they can match or surpass the execution of veteran Bucks. But Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum shrank under the pressure of Sunday's Game 1 at the TD Garden. Brown was careless with the ball, throwing threes when his shot went wide and then trying to force drives against several defenders. Tatum was a little better, but he missed 12 of his 18 shots and then seemed more interested in snapping the officials than getting back on defense. Celtics receive a harsh reminder from defending champion Bucks in the Game 1 loss. The Bucks brought a physicality to their 101-89 win that the Celtics haven't seen in weeks. They protected the color with a ferocity, treating any penetration from Boston dribbles as a mark of disrespect that had to be quickly addressed with a blocked shot or a passionate fight. Tatum and Brown were a 10-to-31 combo shooting and 3-of-13-of-2 pointers, meaning they were either edge-challenged or just missing chip-shot layups. Tatum thrived in the Brooklyn series, splitting defenses with his dribbling and then challenging the opposing big man to a layup. On Sunday, Tatum tried to dribble but then saw giants Brook Lopez and Giannis Antetokounmpo and thought differently. The result was a missed layup against multiple defenders or a fainting spell. The Bucks didn't want the Celtics to win the paint and they controlled the game by limiting the shots possible. The Celtics then reverted to their December selves and countered by starting threes. Tatum and Brown attempted 18 threes and made seven. The bucks were in control as each began to become untracked. And while coach Ime Udoka had a solid defensive showing -- Antetokounmpo was shooting 9-for-25 and the Bucks were 41 percent overall -- the fact is that Boston's stars didn't show up to the party in the game's most critical game of the season. "Jayson and Jaylen didn't have the best night offensively," Udoka said. "We missed some easy ones that we'll usually do, so the combination leads to these numbers. Shaughnessy: The Milwaukee Bucks are not the Brooklyn Nets, and the Celtics are in for a fight this series. The Bucks started the day by applying full pressure during possession to speed up the Celtics and hamper their offensive rhythm. Brown attempted to burn the defense by making open 3-pointers but missed five of his six first-half attempts and committed four turnovers. Ball handling in traffic was Brown's main weakness and he again struggled against the aggressive bucks that would get at him every time he tackled the basket. His seven turnovers tied for a season-high and in a third-quarter possession, he simply pulled in a short hookshot that was 2 feet short. "We have to be the smarter team," Brown said. We've scored a lot of three-pointers and we look very good, but we have to understand that they want that from us. We still have to find ways to influence the game. The Heat were the harder and spasmodic and wanted the games more. The Celtics had challenged their pride during that series and folded. They didn't necessarily fold in Game 1, but they definitely staggered, seemingly shocked by Milwaukee's intensity and precision, resorted to hero ball or played the almost-possible pass that led to one of Boston's 18 turnovers. The Bucks want someone besides Tatum and Brown to hit them. And players like Grant Williams, Al Horford, Marcus Smart and Payton Pritchard need open shots. But the key to the Celtics winning this series is that Tatum and Brown are the top 10 players. "There's a lot to take away from that," Tatum said. Believe them, they were the better team today. They played better than us and they deserved to win. They're a really good team, so it won't be easy. After the Nets offered little other than two elite scorers and zero defensive resistance, the Celtics got a real taste of what playoff intensity is and what it takes to compete with a champion. If Tatum and Brown are as good as they're advertised and proven, then they must become the catalysts for this series, despite Milwaukee doing everything they can to stifle them. It's the ultimate challenge, requiring adjustments from Udoka and more consistency and composure from Tatum and Brown.

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Game 1 against the Bucks was ugly, but the Celtics can remedy it

The Celtics got a dose of their own medicine — suffocating defense — early in the series, but they're a resilient team. (Author: Gardener)

BucksJaylen Brown (12 points on 4-of-13 shooting) was out of his game in the opener against the Bucks. Hey, at least that wasn't the worst-case scenario, Celtics fans. The Celtics didn't have twice as many turnovers as 2-point baskets, but they did have a slightly less lousy 18-10 ratio there. Oh, and no player visiting Milwaukee stomped on the Kyrie-style Celtics logo, at least as far as we could tell. Look, it could have been worse. All right, so maybe not much worse. The Bucks may not have walked on the logo on purpose, but they did walk over the Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Sunday, going 101-89 in a game that wasn't as close as the last lead. The Celtics, who had an encouraging sweep of the mindless nets in the first round that had visions of an 18th banner dancing in our heads, looked good for about half a quarter and went up with a 22-14 lead a Grant Williams 3-pointer with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. But the Bucks took the lead, 25-24, ending the first quarter on an 8-0 run, went into halftime with a 10-point lead (56-46) and refused to allow the Celtics to play any meaningful game run in the second half. Even when Giannis Antetokounmpo (disciplined 24 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) put in third place with his fourth foul at 3:37 and the Bucks took a 72:66 lead, the visitors extended their lead before the end of the quarter. The de facto dagger to better starting thinking in Game 2 came when the chronically underrated Jrue Holiday hit a three to set the Bucks up to play 92-75 with 7:36. If the Celtics needed a reminder that the Bucks are the defending NBA champions who had no intention of vacating the throne voluntarily, they got a tough beating in the form of their first double-digit loss since a 128-107 win over the Pacers on February 27 The Celtics were the best defensive team in the NBA this season. The Bucks were the best defensive team on the court Sunday. They tracked Jayson Tatum (who finished with 21 points on 6-of-18 shooting and didn't score a field goal until just under seven minutes remained in the first half) across every inch of the floor. They fought every hit to the rim, essentially forcing the Celtics to play a 3-pointer-or-bust offense, which they accepted only too readily. The Celtics finished 28 of 84 from the field, including 18 of 50 of three. The 28 field goals were a season low. That's right, as in her entire story. They aided the Bucks' fierce defensive efforts by being careless with the ball (18 turnovers) and missing too many open shots. And there's no getting around it: Jaylen Brown (12 points on 4-of-13 shooting) was miserable. He settled for questionable threes, was careless with the ball from dribbling and passing (7 turnovers), and slipped into his tunnel vision habits (which he never really fixed, if we're being honest) when he tried to attack. Too often for such a good player, he can look like the villainous "Space Jam" monsters have stolen his instincts, if not his skills. The Bucks are playing without their second-best offensive player, Khris Middleton. In fact, without Brown Sunday, the Celtics were, at least in remotely decent form. As frustrating as the final 3½ quarters of Game 1 were and as tedious as losing outright at home is, it's not necessarily a bad thing that the Celtics got a dose of their own medicine - meaning the suffocating defense in particular - early in this row. They're an intelligent, seasoned team made up of the best player in the universe and a supporting cast of players who know their roles and execute them well. The Bucks believe they are the better team in this series, and they have a year-long banner to back that belief. That doesn't mean they will be, but all of us - the Celtics players more than anyone else - had better realize that this is going to be a grind for every minute of every game. Game 1's physicality was somewhat reminiscent of an '80s Celtics Sixers series. It was also a reminder that even the best teams face the toughest challenges along the way; You will recall that in 2008 the Celtics had to win two seven-game series before beating the Lakers in the Six-Game Finals. Ime Udoka and the Celtics coaches and players know exactly what needs to happen in Game 2. Tatum needs to find a way to get comfortable shots. Brown can't play that incoherently. The supporting players must throw candid looks. And they need to match, if not surpass, the Bucks' defensive intensity, which means Marcus Smart's knee better be fine. What happened in Game 1 was ugly but it can be fixed and we know these Celtics are resilient. That wasn't the worst-case scenario on Sunday. The worst-case scenario is if such a debacle happens again.

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Bucks elite defense gives Tatum, Celtics a taste of their own medicine

Celtics fans may recognize the defensive game plan the Bucks used to corner Jayson Tatum and his teammates during Boston's ugly 101-89 loss at TD Garden on Sunday. (Author: Gardener)

BucksBOSTON — The Celtics put up a defensive masterclass against Kevin Durant in their first-round series against the Nets, playing with a physical edge that threw Brooklyn's superstar off his rhythm. The Milwaukee Bucks flipped the script on Jayson Tatum and the Celtics at the TD Garden on Sunday. The defending champion limited Boston to just 89 points on 33% shooting to steal Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals away. Tatum was the Celtics' top scorer with 21 points but hit just 6 of 18 shots and 2 of his 11 2-point attempts. No other Celtics player scored more than 12 points, and the C's had just 10 2-point field goals as a team, the second-lowest mark in NBA playoff history. But it also seemed that Boston wasn't ready for the aggressive, physical defense of the Bucks, led by the 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo and the 7-foot Brook Lopez. So we have to find out," Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said after the game. "We know who they are defensively, and I think their physicality surprised us more than anything." Boston amassed just 20 points in the paint compared to Milwaukee's 34. Tatum's drives against Brooklyn often ended in dunks in Round 1 , against Milwaukee, some ended with the ball in the stands. Lopez and Antetokounmpo's presence in the paint forced the Celtics to kick him to the periphery, where they made just 18 of their 50 3-point attempts (36%). While some were open looks, Udoka didn't seem thrilled with how his team was reacting to Milwaukee's strong central defense. We have to go downhill and get in the basket," Udoka said. We know Lopez is back there, so we had some kickouts and some drop-offs that we could have done and also some shots that we missed at the basket .Court press as he invades Tatum's airspace much like Boston did with Durant last series."I think one thing is just push him," Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said as he searched for the key on defense was asked by Tatum. That game plan had some success against Tatum, who admitted to feeling a bit disturbed in Game 1. "I think they just kind of sped us up," Tatum said. "We just have to do better, just that to do what we want to do and not let it dictate that as the game progressed Celtics got a rude awakening on Sunday in the form of a Bucks defensive tee The hat is very long and, more importantly, can match Boston's physicality keep up in. They really came out and set the tone," Celtics big man Al Horford said after the game. "It was one of those games that they let us play, which was great, and I definitely think we backed away from those things. They did." How the Celtics react to Milwaukee's physicality in Game 2 Tuesday night will be one contribute greatly to their success in this series.

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Antetokounmpo triple-double helps Bucks crush Celtics in Game 1

Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded a 24-point triple-double performance to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a lopsided win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference Playoff series on Sunday night. (Author: Gardener)

BucksMilwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (R) totaled 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a playoff win over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Boston on Sunday. MAY 2 (UPI) -- Giannis Antetokounmpo recorded a 24-point triple-double performance to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a lopsided win over the Boston Celtics Sunday night in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference playoff series. The Bucks forward totaled 13 rebounds and a dozen assists in the 101-89 win at TD Garden in Boston. Bucks guard Jrue Holiday had a game-high 25 points, including 17 in the second half. We knew what it was and we wanted to win that first game on the road.” The game featured five lead changes and four draws. 34-20 in the suit, 28-8 before quick breaks and up to 17 points clear. The Celtics used an 11-2 run to take a 22-14 lead after nine minutes of play. The Bucks responded with a 13-2, ending the first quarter and leading 27-24 early in the second. They beat the Bucks 29-22 over the next 12 minutes and led 56-46 at halftime. The Celtics beat the Bucks 24-22 in the third. The Bucks beat the Celtics 23-19 in the final 12 minutes to secure the win. Bucks forward Bobby Portis totaled 15 points and 11 rebounds in the win. Grayson Allen scored 11 points from the Bucks bench. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum has a total of 21 points Celtics forward Al Horford has a total of 12 points and 10 rebounds RELATIVE Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker returns for Game 6 against the Celtics ho st the Bucks in Game 2 at 7 p.m. EDT Tuesday at the TD Garden. The winner of the series meets the top seeded Miami Heat or the No. 4 Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Finals. April 29 (UPI) - Veteran guard Chris Paul made 14 of 14 shot attempts for a game-high 33 points to lead the Phoenix Suns to a Game 6 win over the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Phoenix Suns star Devin Booker returns for Game 6 vs APRIL 28 (UPI) - Phoenix Suns star guard Devin Booker will return for Game 6 against the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night, the team announced. April 28 (UPI) -- Sharpshooter Stephen Curry scored five 3-pointers and 30 points overall to lead the Golden State Warriors to a crucial playoff series win over the Denver Nuggets. April 27 (UPI) - Ja Morant already won this year's Most Improved Player award but showed he has even more potential with a forceful dunk and a game-winning shot in the Memphis Grizzlies' playoff win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. April 27 (UPI) -- Victor Oladipo posted a team-high 23 points to lead the undermanned Miami Heat to a narrow Game 5 win over the Atlanta Hawks to wrap up the Eastern Conference playoff series in the first round . Bucks' Jrue Holiday Named NBA Teammate of the Year for Second Time APRIL 26 (UPI) -- Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday was named the recipient of the NBA's Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year on Tuesday, the league said. Heat star Jimmy Butler ruled out for Game 5 vs APRIL 26 (UPI) - Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler was ruled out of Game 5 against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday night because of an infection in his right knee, the team said. April 26 (UPI) -- The Toronto Raptors dominated in the paint, forcing the Philadelphia 76ers to have a bad night of shooting to win Game 5 of their Eastern Conference playoff series and avoid elimination for the second straight year. April 26 (UPI) -- Kyrie Irving said an emotionally "difficult" season, the distractions of his previous absence from home games and James Harden's exit through a trade were among the issues that led to the Brooklyn Nets' early elimination from the playoffs . April 25 (UPI) -- Memphis Grizzlies star point guard Ja Morant was named the NBA's "Most Improved Player" on Monday.

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In Game 1 vs Bucks, the old playoff demons of the Celtics emerge and threaten to stop a remarkable turnaround

BOSTON — The Boston Celtics know they have a golden opportunity to reach the 2022 NBA Finals with injury luck on their side for the first time in nearly a decade. A battered Heat or 76ers roster could also be waiting for you in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics need to find their first to find out and that's a long way off... (Author: Gardener)

BOSTONBOSTON — The Boston Celtics know they have a golden opportunity to reach the 2022 NBA Finals with injury luck on their side for the first time in nearly a decade. A battered Heat or 76ers roster could also be waiting for you in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Celtics need to get their first to find out, and that's far from certain after a 101-89 loss in Game 1 of Sunday's Eastern Conference Semifinals. The team's meager 89.2 offensive rating was the second-worst performance of the entire season. Given that, it was a miracle the side was still nearly three-fourths in the game given how lazy that offensive display was. While the Celtics as a whole have been an exceptional offensive team as of January, there is a dramatic track record that has dogged this team's core in recent postseason runs: offensive end self-immolation. The formula is quite simple for a team like Milwaukee. It forces guys like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown out of their comfort zones, challenges Marcus Smart to overdo it and takes away easy baskets for the rest of Boston's one-dimensional goal attack. "They tried to take us out of certain sets but we like the distance it gives us," said Ime Udoka after the defeat. “Like I said, I don't feel like our rim numbers were the best tonight. Gave us speed and I don't feel like we played with the best balance and composure overall. I need to see what they tried to speed us up and it kinda worked. The flawless ball motion we've seen for months vanished the moment the Celtics settled for good shots or simply accelerated to make bad ones. Milwaukee looked like he had weaknesses all over the court to attack, playing a three-man lineup with limited speed in multiple positions along with some defensive weaknesses (Grayson Allen). However, the Celtics did not attack any of those points regularly or successfully. Instead, it was a one-dimensional attack that produced the lowest two-point field goal performance in franchise history (10). The scary thing for the Celtics is that we've seen this movie before against elite playoff teams. The Bucks made it through the 2019 postseason against a far more talented but less cohesive Celtics roster. The Heat also forced Boston to offensively melt down for a portion of every other half in the 2020 Conference Finals. This team also showed shades of this inefficient offense in the first half of the 2021-22 season before seemingly turning the corner. The Bucks clearly understood they could pull this game back out despite their changed paths in Boston. They surrounded Tatum and Brown with multiple bodies in the paint each time, challenging them to make the easy play instead of forcing a shot against a rim guard or making a drop-off pass with their hands in the lanes. Plagued by injuries, Smart looked like the old version of himself, a little too eager with his 3-point shots and at times sloppy with the ball. Boston's bench looked as limited as they have all postseason, since the team's usual rotation on shots inside the arc was only 1 in 6. Many inconsistent attacks with this group resulted in bad or rushed 3-pointers and Ime Udoka made a crucial mistake in the fourth quarter, taking Brown and a non-shooter in Rob Williams in an afternoon with G. Williams, Pritchard and White paired when nobody in that group looked solid offensively. There's obviously still plenty of time for a turnaround at such a pivotal opportunity for the franchise, something Brown is confident we'll see. This group is being tested, so all we have to do is come out, keep our trust, keep our trust in each other, don't lose our trust, stay connected, execute the game plan, and it will work. After the stinker, there was no commotion in the locker room, no pointing fingers, or the emergence of teammates on the floor, which is a step up from previous seasons for this group. Old habits have to be broken down again, otherwise the feeling of well-being from the second half of the team could quickly evaporate.

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Why Celtics can't make small positives despite 'due' offense Game 1 loss to Bucks

The Celtics weren't perfect on Sunday, but they can find some building blocks from that performance. (Author: Gardener)

Game 1BOSTON — The Celtics knew exactly how the Bucks would defend them. But the Celtics combined that knowledge with one of their worst offensive performances since their midseason turnaround. They no longer looked like an efficient team attacking weaknesses. They were instead the old Celtics who struggled immensely early in the season while racking up losses. The Celtics have probably reached a season low with their offensive against the Bucks. Much credit should go to the crushing Bucks defense. They shot a season-low 33.3% from the field. But there are some silver linings, those little bits of optimism that the Celtics can compete with the Bucks. Despite the ugly basketball, the Celtics put themselves in a position to at least threaten the Bucks in Game 1. And in what could be a long seven-game streak, there are building blocks that prove the Celtics can compete with the reigning champions. "It's kind of good to get rid of these idiots offensively," said Boston coach Ime Udoka. "So to lose a 12-point game when we played so poorly offensively is a good sign for us in my opinion. We'll find out what we like so far and then I think our bad offense fueled their offense. The midrange will likely come alive as the bucks continue to have their bigs near the edge. Udoka said they sometimes rode too much, which was partly why they had 18 turnovers that resulted in 27 Milwaukee points. The Bucks also pressured the C's from the inbounds. Udoka said that spurred the Celtics on, although they liked the distance that came from those opportunities. It just comes down to the execution of the Celtics, Udoka said, where they didn't get the right readings or lost their composure at times. "We have to go downhill and to the basket," said Udoka. So we're going to look at that and figure out what we want to do until then.” Arguably the most important positive result of Sunday was the Celtics' defense. The Bucks scored 101 points, which is usually low enough when the Celtics emerge victorious. When the Celtics return to the series, they will rely on their defense to do so. They ended the season with the best defensive efficiency in the league, and that makes them title contenders from the start. Those were the building blocks that came on Sunday. The Celtics are hoping their offense can recover from an atypical play while defense shuts down the Bucks enough to recover. We now have an opportunity to learn from this game, to see how we are as a group and to do that on Tuesday.” The Bucks were the more physical team on Sunday and that reflected in the game. The Celtics built an early lead by attacking early, but the Bucks quickly stopped that flow. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown never looked comfortable as they played one of their worst games of the season together. Milwaukee also showed its strength. As Udoka pointed out, the Celtics' offensive ineptitude allowed the Bucks to get out and run. The Bucks finished the tournament with 28 fast break points, being able to produce easy buckets when the Celtics made mistakes. Then Milwaukee was able to end Boston's semi-judicial offense; The C's finished with just six fast break points. It was far from a perfect performance by the Celtics. They didn't look like title contenders on Sunday but saw up close what it takes to win it all by taking on the defending champion. But the ingredients are there if the Cs can tighten up on offense. "There's a lot of things we can take away from this," Tatum said. Believe them, they were the better team today, they played better than us and they deserved to win."

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The determined Bucks sent a strong message by defeating the Celtics in Game 1

The determined Bucks sent a strong message by defeating the Celtics in Game 1 (Author: Gardener)

BOSTON -- It's fair to say NBA head coaches don't talk a lot of trash. Especially in the Eastern Conference semifinals, the bracket is full of good teams doing a variety of things very, very well on the pitch. The second-placed Boston Celtics are one of those teams. And with four potential games on their home field and a drafting advantage over the Milwaukee Bucks as all-star Khris Middleton was sidelined with a knee injury, Celtics freshman head coach Ime Udoka said before the game that his team was seeing some favorable encounters will have series. "That's how they're built," said Budenholzer before the game. But that's the challenge of guarding this Boston team and the way they play. "So we're going to go play and see what happens." What happened was the Bucks rolled into TD Garden and dominated on the defensive end of the court, with their "big" starting lineup of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis inside and out outside at both ends of the court in a stunning 101-89 dominated victory. The trio -- along with guards Jrue Holiday and Wesley Matthews -- were the same starting group that beat Chicago in the last three games of the Bucks first-round series, but they were used slightly differently in Boston on Sunday. Foul trouble for Holiday, Antetokounmpo and Portis changed some of the line-ups over time but for the most part one or two of them stayed on the pitch most of the time. Against the Celtics, the Bucks tried throwing heavy hands. There would be no "feel" from the Celtics. “I'm sure both teams; You want to be ready, you want to take a good shot, take your best shot early. If you don't, the good thing about a seven-game streak is that there are still many games and a lot of basketball left. But I don't think so, let alone our mentality to come in and just try it. And the Bucks were. After giving up six points in the first quarter of seven turnovers, the Bucks turned off that tap by not allowing points in seven turnovers for the rest of the game. Boston also scored six points from four offensive rebounds in the first quarter, but only scored eight more from six seconds after that. The easy buckets disappeared for the Celtics, who made just 10 two-point field goals. The three Milwaukee Bigs combined for 34 rebounds and 45 points. "It's a physical series," Portis said after the game. “Both teams are physical, both teams are playing hard, both teams are playing defense, both teams are long and big. So just be physical, be present, let things come our way, take the shots that are available to us, play with confidence, play with swag, just play our basketball style — it doesn't matter to us who's on the floor . "We have the utmost faith in the players out there on the field." Holiday scored 17 of his 25 points in the second half and the Bucks won their first Game 1 away since 2017 (excluding the 2020 "Bubble" playoffs. Grayson Allen , Pat Connaughton and Jevon Carter combined for 6 three-pointers off the bench while Wesley Matthews harassed Tatum all game long. "I think it was just the team's thought," Holiday said of the setting, the series with a big hit against Boston to open up the road, to come here on a Sunday afternoon and not to take it lightly, like Bobby said, both teams are physical, both teams are playing great defense and have a lot of great players so we knew straight away what it was and what we wanted to do was win that first game on the road.” Make no mistake about it – offense wasn't easy for the Bucks either – but their defense wore the Celtics down n oh and after. While Antetokounmpo (9-on-25) and Holiday (8-on-20) struggled with their shots, they continued to score goals throughout the game at key moments, however, Boston stars Tatum and Jaylen Brown took a beating, especially the crucial one Start of the fourth quarter as the Bucks extended an eight-point lead to as high as 17 in the third quarter. Neither player scored for the Celtics and Tatum finished the fourth quarter just 1-2 for two points and Brown 2-3 for six points before the game completely slipped away. I feel like we came here determined," Holiday said. And again, I don't think it's just me. Bobby, Brook, Giannis, Grayson played very well playing all over the court have, Pat played all over the court, and then Wes – Wes didn't really mention much. Most of the time he's on their top scorer and he does so much and maybe sacrifices things on o defense because of the things we're asking of him "It's definitely a team effort and from there you just try to wear them down as much as possible until hopefully in the fourth quarter it becomes a fight and they can't just have open threes or walk up shots." "Certainly there's still a lot of basketball ahead and the Celtics will like some of what they've done. They defended Antetokounmpo maybe better than anyone at any other point in the season. Tatum and/or Brown will have a hot night. But the Bucks achieved their goal of landing an opening shot by reclaiming home field advantage with a determined, defensive mindset.

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Celtics receive harsh warning from defending champion Bucks in Game 1 loss

After rolling through the opening round, Boston struggled offensively and had little response to Giannis Antetokounmpo (24 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) and Milwaukee. (Author: Gardener)

BostonJaylen Brown and the Celtics could do little to stop the Bucks celebrating a Game 1 win. As the Celtics improbably emerged as the most dominant team in the NBA, fourth-quarter results often got so lopsided that their stars could rest and admire the destruction they'd inflicted on their opponent. Midway through the fourth quarter of Sunday's conference semifinal opener against the Bucks, however, the scoreboard wasn't nearly as nice. With his team 16 points down, coach Ime Udoka urged strong possession, not because a comeback was imminent but because it might create some momentum for Game 2. "And they were definitely at a different level tonight." The Celtics haven't negotiated many speed bumps in the past few months. And after sweeping the nets in the opening round and entering that series with home field advantage against a Milwaukee team that was without All-Star forward Khris Middleton, confidence continued to soar. But on Sunday, the Bucks made a stark reminder that they're still the defending NBA champion, that they still have former MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, and that this definitely won't be easy. It was Boston's first double-digit loss in 24 games and left a mark. Shaughnessy: The Milwaukee Bucks are not the Brooklyn Nets, and the Celtics are in for a fight this series. "We have to be the tougher team," said Celtics forward Jaylen Brown. On the final day of the regular season, the Bucks missed an opportunity to secure the No. 2 pick when they dropped their best players and lost to the Cavaliers. They appeared to duck a potential seventh-place matchup with the Nets, and when the Celtics had a similar opportunity, they didn't run. The Bucks are also in the conference semifinals, and now the way to the next round leads through their city anyway. "There's obviously a reason why they were the champions last year," Horford said. As dangerous as the Nets behind Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can be on offense, their defense is typically as effective as a napkin after a burst pipe. Transitioning to this big, strong, intense, and relentless Bucks group might have been jarring for the Celtics. Bucks guards were constantly picking up, harassing and shoving ball handlers all over the court, taking 6-8 seconds off the shot clock before they could even think about getting on their offense. The Celtics only made 10 of 34 2-point shots. Washburn: Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown need to advance to the semifinals if Celtics have any hopes of a series turn as The Bucks' approach created driving and kicking opportunities and the Celtics responded with 50 3-pointers thrown in a set the most were non-overtime games that season. "Having 89 points and a lack of penetration and color points is obviously alarming, so we need to figure that out," Udoka said. "But we know who they are defensively and I think their physicality surprised us more than anything." Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Brown both looked cautious and uncertain on offense. They scored 21 and 12 points, respectively, and collectively made 10 of 31 shots and 10 turnovers. When Middleton was ruled out for the Bucks because of the knee sprain he sustained in Game 2 of his team's opening round series against the Bulls, the Celtics' chances of choking Antetokounmpo improved. Although he made 9 shots out of 25 on Sunday, he influenced the game in other ways, such as sliding down the lane and finding open shooters. Antetokounmpo finished with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists. "I think we helped him unnecessarily at times when we had some good matchups against him," Udoka said. They forced seven turnovers in the first eight minutes, took a lightning-fast 22-14 lead and resembled the team that has ruthlessly rolled over the rest of the league in recent months. But the Bucks responded with a 13-2 run. The Bucks took a 56-46 lead at halftime but managed an opening in the third game. They missed all eight of their 3-pointers and Antetokounmpo went to the bench after his fourth foul with 3:37 to go, his team clinging to a six-point lead. But by the end of the quarter, the Bucks had extended their lead by two points. Celtics guard Payton Pritchard missed four straight 3-pointers over the first 3:14 of the fourth, and a Boston run never materialized.

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The Celtics need a lot more of their stars

The Bucks rolled over the Celtics in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday thanks to an aggressive defensive game plan. Read more at Boston.com. (Author: Gardener)

BucksIt's always best to avoid overreacting to the first game of a series, so let's try to keep things in perspective: The Celtics aren't going to win a series against the Bucks if Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined 10-to- 31 shoot off the floor every night as they did in Sunday's 101-89 loss. The only problem: The Bucks had a lot to do with their struggles in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Both Tatum and Brown have been harassed and harassed by aggressive Bucks defensemen who appear to have been waiting for the postseason all year - buoyed by the confidence of having won a title last season. The Bucks looked like a completely different team on Sunday than the Celtics faced in the regular season. The recipe is simple, even if acquiring the medicine isn't: the Celtics need more of Tatum, who is the starting point for all of their best attacks. They also need more from Brown, who takes a lot of the pressure off of opposing teams on Tatum. Until those two things happen, they will keep fighting. "We have to be ready for their physicality and they hit us in the mouth early on and set the tone," Brown said. "We reacted better in the second half when we gave up 45 points, but at the end of the day we have to play better and that's what it's going to come down to." The bet the Bucks made in Game 1 was that the entire Jenga tower would topple if they harassed the Celtics' stars with aggressive, physical defense. They'll have to find out quick though -- the Bucks also bet they wouldn't need home field advantage against the Celtics on the final day of the regular season, and they stole the advantage from the Celtics right in Game 1. "Be ready to come back, play better, play harder, come in and win," Tatum said. "I think that's how we're going to react." 2. Perhaps the biggest problem for the Celtics on offense was their inability to produce anything on the paint line that had a lot to do with the Bucks' defense. Milwaukee pushed Boston for turnovers, forced them to unsuccessfully challenge Brook Lopez and never let them get on their best offense. They disrupted the Celtics with a full-court defense and Ime Udoka admitted after the game the ball handlers were "sped up". It was one of those games that they let us play, which was great. And yeah, I definitely think we took a step back just because of the things they did. In fact, what the Bucks did to the Celtics was something historic - the Celtics just missed being the fourth team in the shot -Clock era turning less than 10 two-pointers in a game. Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, was doing things like that. The Celtics have a lot to figure out ahead of Game 2. 3. Marcus Smart ran off the field in the first half after a shoulder jab and the Celtics added a quad injury to his list of complaints before returning for the second half. Ime Udoka told reporters after the game that he expects Smart to be fine, but the Defensive Player of the Year didn't seem comfortable. "He took a few hits," said Udoka. I think the quad bothered him more than the shoulder. He'll play through a lot. It could have affected him offensively, going downhill, driving a bit. But he also likes to step up a little on the defensive and is more physical. Robert Williams took a hard first-half kick in the groin from Antetokounmpo but he, too, got back into the game and seemed fine. 4. The Celtics also need to cover the Bucks' shooters much better. During the regular season, with Antetokounmpo on the floor and Khris Middleton - who is sidelined for the series - on the bench, the lineups were actually better than when the duo shared the court. Without Middleton, the Bucks simply surround Antetokounmpo with shooters and Brook Lopez, making the game much easier. Going forward, the Celtics may simply have to trust Al Horford and Grant Williams to do a good job at Antetokounmpo to keep defenders at home with the Bucks' shooters. 5. The Celtics turned the ball over 18 times, including seven by Brown. Derrick White also battled the pressure from the Bucks in the first half as he and Marcus Smart combined for five more Celtics turnovers. Tatum coughed it up three times. 6. After the game, Udoka remarked that it would be difficult for the Celtics to play worse. "I thought it was kind of good to take that guy out of the way offensively," said Udoka. "And to lose a 12-point game like that when we played so poorly offensively bodes well for us, I think. We'll find out what we like so far and then I think our bad offense fueled their offense. So lots of opportunities to clean up and get better.” Game 2 taps out at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday in Boston.

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