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Undermanned Celtics come up just short, lose to the Bucks 127-121

The seeding battle was more or less decided tonight.

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

The Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks squared off for the final time this regular season but maybe not for the final time this month. Jaylen Brown led the way with his second career triple-double – 22 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. For the Bucks, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 29 points and 11 rebounds.

Boston had three 20-point scorers; along with Brown, Marcus Smart poured in 29 points and 7 assists while Daniel Theis put together 22 points. Derrick White chipped in 19 points.

Jaylen Brown took over right from the opening tip. Even though his shooting percentage took a while to get going, he was aggressive right from the jump in all facets of the game, including some crisp playmaking moments that led to his high assist total. He’s a professional scorer at this point, but the other parts of his game are what led to the team’s overall success tonight.

The Bucks allow the most 3-pointers in the league as part of their gameplan. That worked to Boston’s advantage as players like Marcus Smart, Payton Pritchard, Daniel Theis and Sam Howhashebeenonthebenchsomuchwhenhecanshootlikethat Hauser splashed in multiple 3-point shots. Derrick White continued his journey out of his shooting slump since joining the Cs, and he was a key to the team keeping the pace in the first half.

I want to circle back to Theis for a minute because he had an incredible game – particularly in the third quarter. Smart and Theis synced up for several connections to get easy buckets, and this was particularly welcome with Jaylen Brown facing foul trouble. Theis scored 15 points in the third quarter, a career-high for a quarter from him.

For Milwaukee, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impact was muted in the first half compared to his All-Star teammate, Middleton (noted Celtics hater who finished with 22 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists). Antetokounmpo definitely came alive in the second half. Jrue Holiday (29 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists) was his usual steady hand. Brook Lopez added a dynamic that was missing from previous matchups between these two teams. Giving the team more vertical spacing in addition to being a jump-shooting threat makes the Bucks even more difficult to guard.

For two teams touting two Defensive Player of the Year candidates, a whole lot of points went up on the board. It was wonderful.

Jaylen Brown entered in the fourth quarter to secure his triple-double while leading the Celtics to some really quality possessions. Derrick White was strongest in the first quarter and the last quarter as he supported Brown with some really timely plays on the defensive end and in transition.

Ime Udoka let a lineup with Luke Kornet at center play all the way until about five minutes left in the game, but the Celtics didn’t suffer because of it. Every lineup was scrappy tonight, and that allowed Smart and Theis to come back in fresh just in time for Smart to hit his 7th 3-pointer of the night followed by a DPOY-esque block on Antetokounmpo at the rim.

It should be noted that the Celtics rarely make things easy on me when I get the recap. It would be nice to get a good, old-fashioned blowout for once. Instead, Daniel Theis missed a bunny and Antetokounmpo put the Bucks up by 4 with under 40 seconds to go. A turnover later, and the Bucks all but secured the second seed. Thankfully for Boston, the 76ers took an L to the Raptors, so the Celtics hold on to the third seed for now. They’re in danger of falling to the fourth seed if the Sixers win out or if Boston loses the last game of the season.

The Celtics will conclude the season on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies at 7 p.m. EST on Sunday.

For more postgame coverage of the tough loss with playoff ramifications against the Bucks, tune into the the Garden Report Postgame Show LIVE on right after the game. Join A Sherrod Blakely, Bobby Manning, Josue Pavon, Jimmy Toscano and host John Zannis for a full breakdown. Plus, the guys will discuss who can and should play against Memphis on Sunday.

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