Two nights after one of their worst losses of the season, the Celtics responded convincingly with one of their best wins of the season.
Boston steamrolled Milwaukee, 140-99, to cement a statement victory before these teams potentially meet again in the Eastern Conference Finals.
It was a spectacular showing no matter how you break it down, but it’s often fun to look at games like this through a statistical lens.
Here are five telling stats that illuminate just how dominant a victory it was:
1. Malcolm Brogdon was plus-41; Giannis Antetokounmpo was minus-32.
Let’s start with Brogdon. As is often the case, the Celtics played with better pace when he entered the game.
His shot selection was great, he attacked the rim regularly and he added five assists and four steals. It also didn’t hurt that he was on the floor with an unconscious Jayson Tatum and an unconscious Jaylen Brown, but Brogdon was also a main reason the Celtics pulled away.
Brogdon v. The Bucks— Brian Barrett (@itsbrianbarrett) March 31, 2023
10-16 (62.5%) FG
29 points (9.7 PPG)
Brogdon’s drive game gives The C’s a new wrinkle against The Bucks
*He’s huge in a Buck series with his ability to get downhill and knock down 3s!!!!
44.1% 3PT - 4th in The NBA
As for Antetokounmpo, the Celtics have appeared to figure out the formula better than anyone else. Of course he’s going to get his, but the Celtics have the length, physicality and smarts to make him human.
They dared him to beat them from the outside whenever possible, and he missed over and over. Even when he scored, he had to work hard in the paint and hit shots at tough angles. If the Celtics can play him like they did Thursday at least once or twice in a playoff series, you have to like their odds.
Since Milwaukee’s game 5 win— Brian Barrett (@itsbrianbarrett) March 31, 2023
Tatum v. Giannis head to head
(Tatum did not play in the OT Loss)
50-86 (58.1%) FG
23-41 (56.1%) 3PT
150 points (37.5 PPG)
44-105 (41.9%) FG
120 points (30 PPG)
2. The Celtics shot 51.2 percent from 3.
No, that percentage isn’t sustainable. Yes, the style is.
The Celtics zipped the ball around the perimeter and were both confident and in rhythm when they took their 3’s.
Al Horford was ready to fire away. The truth is that teams can’t worry about him all too much, but at the same time, they have to so he doesn’t burn them all night.
Drain of the game couldn't be anything but Al Horford knocking it down from 3— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 31, 2023
Presented By John’s Sewer And Drain Cleaning pic.twitter.com/rPQmRNr9qT
Brown and Tatum exploited mismatches and drove enough to keep the defense honest. Tatum was a preposterous 8-of-10 from 3 and Brown was 3-of-5. It was the kind of game where you knew the shot was going in before it even left their fingertips.
Boston and Milwaukee both took 43 threes, but the Celtics made 22 and the Bucks 14. That’ll do it.
"They had a different look in their eyes."— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 31, 2023
Al on the Jays combining for 70 pts pic.twitter.com/DLi7Y7BQEl
March 31, 2023
3. Rob Williams had more blocks (4) than shot attempts (3).
The lasting image from last night will be Williams swatting Antetokounmpo. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a gem of a photo.
But it wasn’t just one play. Williams was everywhere all night. That’s exactly what the Celtics need from him in the playoffs. In just 19 minutes, he finished plus-20 and added seven rebounds.
Williams doesn’t need the ball to be effective. Every team needs a player like that, and the Celtics are lucky to have one.
"He's everywhere!"— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) March 31, 2023
the Rob Williams' impact is real pic.twitter.com/BOTaMOUffT
4. Boston had as many steals as turnovers (8).
This team is just about unbeatable when it values the ball and makes its opponent uncomfortable.
There were many plays where the Celtics could have forced something on offense or given up on defense, but instead, they made the right play time and time again.
Now the key, of course, is playing this way regardless of the opponent. Maybe they can ask the Jazz players to wear Bucks jerseys.
JB locked all the way in pic.twitter.com/l65TIaa5wQ— Boston Celtics (@celtics) March 30, 2023
5. The Bucks took 101 shots and scored 99 points.
Milwaukee shot 37.6 percent from the field and 32.6 percent from 3.
This is the type of defense the Celtics will need to play more often than not if they want to win a championship. It was just one game, but it was a promising step.
They rotated, closed out and were much faster than the Bucks all night. Milwaukee certainly missed some shots it could have made, but the Celtics’ style would have been effective even if Milwaukee weren’t as cold.
This is the formula. Now, it’s about finding consistency.