The last time these teams met it took a mesmerizing behind-the-head pass from Isaiah Thomas that found Jae Crowder in the corner for an open three to stamp the victory. This time there were no such late game heroics needed for the Boston Celtics.
This time we got Gino Time.
The Bucks came out aggressive in a high scoring opening frame, driving into the paint at will and getting out on the fast break for easy buckets. They were aided by some active whistles in the early going, as Boston was called for 10 fouls in the opening frame, including three on Crowder that kept the starting forward glued to the bench for all but 7 minutes of the first half.
If it's any consultation for a few tough calls it's that Milwaukee couldn't capitalize. The Bucks went to the line 13 times in the first quarter, but made only 7 of them. This allowed the Celtics to hang around until the second unit was able to claw their way back in a dominant second quarter against the injury depleted Bucks.
Marcus Smart's shot still isn't falling, but the opening half of this game was a shining example of how he can impact a game on both ends without scoring. Smart played tenacious defense, picking up a couple of steals in the half to go along with 7 of his team-high 9 assists. His most impressive of those assists was a full-court inbound pass with two seconds left that found Jared Sullinger in the paint for a buzzer-beating layup to end the half.
Smart finds Sully with a Hail Mary and the C's end the half in style! pic.twitter.com/54OIhNClfN— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 9, 2016
Tyler Zeller also played a key role in that second quarter turnaround, chipping in 9 points and a pair of blocks in an active 9 minutes off the bench. The big man would finish with a team-high 26 points, getting plenty of extra minutes on the court during garbage time.
Zeller's big night ended Thomas' streak of 17 straight games as the Celtics leading scorer.
Evan Turner returned from a one game absence due to an eye injury, rocking the "MC Hammer" goggles he promised us. He dished out 9 assists, so apparently he can see just fine.
Giannis Antetokounmpo has become one of the league's most exciting players to watch ever since the Bucks turned him into a point-forward. The 6'11'' blossoming star is a triple-double threat every time he steps on the court and was well on his way to another one if it weren't for foul trouble limiting his opportunities down the stretch. The Greek Freak's aggressiveness worked to his determent at times, as he picked up three offensive fouls in the game. He was called for his fifth foul overall with 4:30 left in the third quarter, sending him to the bench and depriving the Bucks of any hope for a comeback.
The win was Boston's 4th straight, moving them ahead of a Miami Heat team that lost in Orlando tonight and into a tie with the idle Atlanta Hawks for the third best record in the East. They will head to Atlanta to face the Hawks tomorrow night in a match-up that may determine the No. 3 seed in the conference.