The Boston Celtics fell to the Milwaukee Bucks 121-119. Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 24 points on 10/16 shooting. Kemba Walker had a great game after a slow start and was part of a big comeback after a large deficit. He ended with 23 points and 6 assists. Khris Middleton killed the Celtics as usual with 27 points, but the real killer was Bobby Portis chipping in 21 points off Milwaukee’s bench.
Jaylen Brown started the game scorching hot while Jayson Tatum (18 points) started ice cold. Pull-ups? Got it. Floaters in the lane? Consider it done. Hard off-ball cuts to the basket? No need to even ask. It seems like Brown tends to have all of his best games against the Milwaukee Bucks, but he definitely got up for this one tonight. He scored 14 of the team’s first 25 points.
Milwaukee got off to a hot start from behind the 3-point line. They started off with three straight 3-pointers to open the game, and it got to a point where the team had seven 3-pointers from seven different players. Boston’s defense was more intense tonight, but they did give up more open 3-pointers than I personally would have liked to see. Perimeter defense is a big need that needs to be addressed ahead of the trade deadline tomorrow.
In the middle of the second quarter, Semi Ojeleye took a tough screen that led to him behind helped off the floor and into the locker room as he was grabbing his hip/upper leg. The team says it’s a left hip contusion.
The first half was a very clear display of all the potential this team has as well as all the reasons why this team is a massive disappointment. There were flashes in the first quarter where everyone was perfectly playing their role. Then there were long stretches of horrid defense, complaining to the ref, more horrid defense, giving up easy offensive rebounds, absolutely horrid defense, and 1 FTA the entire half. They gave up 70 points. That’s awful.
Marcus Smart had a great first quarter moving the ball, but then he got way too overzealous with the 3-point shot. Jayson Tatum couldn’t really get it going at any point, which begs the question of if he’s still dealing with an illness or not.
The third quarter started just as poorly as the second quarter ended. You would think that a team down this bad in the season would at least try to show some kind of urgency, but Boston came out flat and uninspired. Boston went down by as much as 25 points before storming back to get to striking distance at the end of the third.
Kemba Walker came alive after a slow start to the first 2.5 quarters and turned it around with aggressive rim attacks to mix with improved shooting. The whole team upped the intensity after this happened:
Marcus Smart & Daniel Theis seem to have a heated exchange on the bench... pic.twitter.com/re8xuvGN2L— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 25, 2021
The fourth quarter was a grind fest, but the Celtics didn’t let up in intensity after getting back in the game in the third quarter. The Celtics went on a 54-31 run after being down 90-65. Boston was so, so close to coming back from down 25, but Daniel Theis missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Yes, it’s frustrating that the Celtics were in such a big hole in the first place. Yes, it’s too late in the season for moral victories and silver linings. But I’m going to choose to be encouraged by the fight this team showed more than being annoyed at the parts of the game that really bothered me. Jeff Teague had another solid outing with 15 points off the bench, and all five starters scored in double figures.
The Celtics take on the Bucks in a rematch on Friday night at 7:30 PM. Hopefully this team looks at least a little different after tomorrow’s 3 PM trade deadline.