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Kyrie Irving leads Boston Celtics to 111-100 defeat of Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis was fantastic, but the Irving-led Celtics walked away with the win.

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Jayson Tatum sent the Boston Garden into a frenzy when he buried his fourth three-pointer of the first quarter. He scored just once from that point forward, but Tatum’s early success was a harbinger of things to come, as the Celtics rode an impressive collective offensive performance to a 111-100 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Boston found great success in remaining patient against the Bucks’ aggressive style of defensive play, moving the ball quickly and consistently enough to turn small cracks into fissures of driving lanes and open looks.

Kyrie Irving was the team’s biggest beneficiary, finishing the night with 32 points on 13-of-23 shooting, including a number of graceful drives to the bucket and a pair of three-point hits—none bigger than the dagger he buried with just 44 seconds left in the game. Al Horford chipped in an even more efficient 20 points of his own, missing just 2 of his 8 shots on the night, along with 9 rebounds and 8 assists.

Boston matched their offensive brilliance with another solid defensive effort, attempts to stop Milwaukee’s long-armed MVP candidate notwithstanding. Giannis Antetokounmpo punished the Celtics with 40 points on 14-of-24 shooting, overpowering smaller defenders on the block, and nimbly dancing around slower opponents.

The rest of the Bucks’ roster struggled to support their leading man, however, mustering just 60 points on 38.8 percent shooting. If you cut Eric Bledsoe out of that equation, those numbers drop to an even more unsettling 41 points on 33.3 percent shooting.

The victory was Boston’s second in three games against Milwaukee this year. The Bucks have the East’s fifth-best record, with legitimate designs on cracking into the conference’s upper half. Tonight’s tilt may have served as an appetizer for a future postseason entree.

The Celtics should feel good about where they stand given the results of their matchups to date, though the team’s inability to slow the man that fans affectionately refer to as the Greek Freak may come as some concern. The Bucks may also very well be buyers at the trade deadline, which could shift the calculus of a seven-game series with the Celtics considerably.

Such considerations are decidedly premature, and the Celtics need not worry about a potential playoff showdown just yet. What matters at this point in the year is piling up wins while finding time for player development and gameplan experimentation. Boston got a lot of the former and a small taste of the latter tonight. That’s as much as you could hope for against a team as good as the Bucks.