Celtics maintain on late to say first assembly vs. revamped Bucks: 10 takeaways


Jaylen Brown was wonderful in a bounce-back efficiency.

Celtics Bucks
Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown and middle Kristaps Porzingis high-five. Danielle Parhizkaran/Globe Workers

The Celtics beat the Bucks 119-116 after they took a giant lead after which held on down the stretch, claiming the primary showdown between the 2 Japanese Convention powerhouses.

Listed here are the takeaways.

1. The sport began as an early-season coronation for a Celtics group that has regarded like the most effective roster within the NBA by the primary 15 video games of the season. The Celtics ran out to a giant lead and punished the Bucks in all of the methods which have been regarding for Milwaukee to date — point-of-attack protection, depth apart from Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton’s decline, and so on. Kristaps Porzingis was dunking and mean-mugging. Jaylen Brown was windmilling and dishing. The Celtics had been cruising and having a good time for roughly 42 minutes.

The lasting picture could be how the Celtics allowed the Bucks to hassle them down the stretch, and the way Damian Lillard bombed away from deep to shut the hole. It was a reminder that the Celtics’ late-game offense nonetheless leaves quite a bit to be desired, even with all the myriad enhancements Brad Stevens has made to the roster. The notion of the Celtics-Bucks rivalry leaving Wednesday’s sport could be that the 2 groups are primarily a coin flip, which doesn’t actually sum up the Celtics’ efficiency though it might be correct.

Nonetheless, notion doesn’t matter very a lot in the long term, particularly on Nov. 22, and it wouldn’t have mattered even when the Celtics beat the Bucks by 30. What does matter is the Celtics claimed the primary sport of their collection in opposition to the Bucks and now must win certainly one of two remaining video games to clinch the tiebreaker. What issues is that the Celtics discover ways to play collectively now in order that in the event that they face the Bucks when video games matter, they’re prepared.

To that finish, Joe Mazzulla was inspired by Wednesday’s sport.

“I felt like tonight, it was what we had been the primary 10-11 video games earlier than the street journey, the place we had been enjoying with excessive effort, and we had been enjoying with connectivity, and we confirmed moments of nice execution,” Mazzulla mentioned. “And so long as we play arduous and so long as we’re linked, we will always get higher on the execution piece. I noticed that tonight, and I didn’t see that in a number of video games prior.”

2. Jrue Vacation struggled for a lot of the sport matched up in opposition to his former group. When he lastly made his first (and solely) discipline objective of the sport — a 3-pointer within the fourth quarter — he raised his arms to the sky in a mixture of aid and frustration with a wry look.

“It’s only one sport, don’t really want to harp on one sport,” Brown mentioned. “It shouldn’t even be a narrative. We’d like Jrue and when our backs are in opposition to the wall and we want him probably the most, he’ll be there.”

Vacation did defend Antetokounmpo nicely in some possessions, which is a optimistic signal for the Celtics. Followers could be on Vacation for lacking pictures and turning the ball over in the previous couple of contests, however having a participant who can greater than credibly guard Damian Lillard and/or Giannis Antetokounmpo on the identical possession is kind of the posh.

3. Predictably, the Bucks had quite a bit bother guarding Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum on the level of assault. Brown specifically had an outstanding sport after back-to-back powerful performances — 26 factors on 10-for-16 taking pictures to go along with eight assists.

“Jaylen simply controlling on the finish of the third quarter, the final six minutes of the third quarter, I assumed he did an awesome job simply controlling your entire sport on each ends of the ground,” Mazzulla mentioned.

The Bucks have the NBA’s Twenty second-best offense, per Cleansing the Glass. They’ve a ton of offensive firepower, however a protection that porous is asking for bother when the postseason rolls round.

4. Al Horford was wonderful on each ends, predictably defending Antetokounmpo nicely and submitting the form of rock-solid efficiency that appears to be his norm in opposition to his favourite particular person matchups. He completed with the trace of a triple-double — 11 factors, eight rebounds and 6 assists off the bench.

5. Porzingis is taking pictures 28.3 from 3-point vary over his final 10 video games, however he has a web score of 8.3. He’s scoring a ton across the rim, which makes the Celtics primarily unguardable for prolonged stretches on condition that his gravity nonetheless makes groups panic.

6. The Celtics ran a quick break with Jaylen Brown and Sam Hauser that resulted in a lob dunk.

Hauser was the one who threw it down.

“I checked out him. He checked out me. And that was all of the affirmation I wanted,” Brown mentioned. “We locked eyes and I mentioned, ‘F— it.’ He checked out me like he was prepared so I threw it to him and he adopted by. So shout out to Sam.”

“Sam can do a variety of issues that individuals suppose he can’t do,” Mazzulla added. “… However no, I didn’t suppose I’d see that tonight.”

The Bucks attacked Hauser’s protection repeatedly and had some success, however they bought pretty much as good as they gave: Hauser completed with 10 factors, made two out of three 3-pointers and was +10 in 20 minutes because the Celtics gained by three.

7. Porzingis’s technical rely is now as much as eight, which suggests he’s midway to a suspension on Nov. 22, after he was hit with a fast one within the second half for clapping his arms one time at an official.

In Porzingis’s delicate protection, the officers had been being labored fairly arduous up till that time on either side, and his technical might need been not less than partly a response to all the chirping.

Nonetheless, he is aware of he must be smarter.

“Clapping arms doesn’t look good,” he mentioned. “And simply small issues that I’ve to concentrate on and never get caught into that emotion in that second, as a result of I simply can’t maintain doing this.

“And it’s not the top of the world, however undoubtedly must be smarter about it and that’s it. Once more, I’m simply having fun with enjoying right here and being stuffed with emotion and that emotion is popping out perhaps somewhat bit.”

8. The Celtics began strolling the canine (letting the ball roll in entrance of them because the clock ran down) with about 5 minutes remaining, which is at all times as certain an indication as any {that a} lead is about to get chewed away. How a lot lead will get chewed away is at all times the large query. The Celtics bought away with it on Wednesday.

9. Payton Pritchard continues to shake off his gradual begin: He scored 10 factors on 4-for-7 taking pictures for 10 factors in a optimistic signal for the Celtics’ bench.

10. The Celtics tackle the Magic in Orlando on Friday, which will likely be one more measuring stick for a Celtics opponent. The Magic simply knocked off the Nuggets to enhance to 10-5 and are tied for third within the Japanese Convention. They could be Full Cease Good this yr, as a substitute of Future Good. Throw within the In-Season Match implications of Friday’s sport, and the Celtics’ return to motion the day after Thanksgiving will quietly be practically as compelling as the sport the day earlier than it.