Milwaukee went into Boston and largely dominated on the way to a 101-89 win in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Sunday.
Playing without Khris Middleton, the Bucks two other stars performed at elite levels. Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped the second triple-double of his playoff career by scoring 24 points, grabbing 13 rebounds and dishing out 12 assists. Jrue Holiday led the scoring punch with 25 points, while also pulling down 9 rebounds, handing out 5 assists and coming up with 3 steals.
Giannis’ +/- over the last four games:
+36 +12 +18 +23
Bucks have won those four games by an average margin of 20.5 ppg.
Those efforts helped Milwaukee take a 10-point lead at the half. The Celtics made a push in the third quarter but the Bucks turned an 8-point lead entering the final period into an 17-point lead at one point in the fourth quarter. Boston waved the white flag by putting all its reserves in with 1:59 left and trailing by 14.
Bobby Portis remained in the starting lineup with Middleton out and he delivered 15 points and 11 rebounds despite dealing with foul trouble. The trio of Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton and Jevon Carter combined for 26 points off the bench.
The story entering the series was Boston’s defense, which has been the best in the league over the last few months. But it was the Bucks that held the Celtics to a playoff-low 89 points after they had scored at least 109 in every game against Brooklyn in the first round. Boston shot just 33.3% from the field and 36% (18 of 50) from beyond the arc. Star Jason Tatum had 21 points to lead the way for the Celtics.
Milwaukee will look to take a 2-0 lead in Game 2 on Tuesday in Boston.