A week ago, the Boston Celtics failed to put away the Milwaukee Bucks in a 108-100 loss in their home opener at TD Garden.
Thursday, however, they didn’t have the same problem.
Boston held a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter, and let their two superstars put the Bucks to bed in a 96-89 win.
Al Horford (27 points, nine rebounds) and Kyrie Irving (24 points) led the way for Boston, as both stars made huge shots down the stretch to hold off the Bucks’ late run.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 28 points, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the Celtics, who had four player score in double figures.
The Celtics improved to 3-2, while the Bucks dropped to 3-2.
Here’s how it all went down.
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF. Al Horford
C: Daniel Theis
TURNOVERS AND FOULS
Neither team played particularly well in the first quarter, as the Celtics turned the ball over eight times, while the Bucks shot 35 percent from the floor. The stanza included a technical foul on Bucks guard DeAndre Liggins and a flagrant foul on Tony Snell, both of which helped the C’s grab a 28-23 lead after one. The two teams combined for 11 fouls in the period, as the officials didn’t take the whistles out of their mouths.
And this happened:
Irving led all scorers with 16 points at the half, but it wasn’t enough for the Celtics to take the lead into the locker room. While Boston led for much of the half, a late turnover led to a Khris Middleton dunk to give the Bucks a 44-43 lead at the break.
The C’s turned the ball over 10 times and shot an abysmal 35.9 percent from the field. Boston also was brutal from downtown, as they hit on just 18.8 percent of their 3-point attempts in the half. Irving and Horford combined to go 11-for-15 in the half, while the rest of the Celtics shot just 3-for-24.
Boston took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter, and Marcus Smart and the C’s bench extended the lead to nine while Irving and Horford rested.
After Boston’s dynamic duo returned, the Bucks were unable to close the gap. Milwaukee trimmed the lead to six with under six to play, but Irving drove baseline and found Horford for a wide-open 3-pointer that the big man splashed.
Then, after Malcolm Brogdon cut the C’s lead to five, Irving crossed up Antetokounmpo and drilled a floater over two defenders. Two possessions later, Horford found Irving for a layup to swell the lead to nine and put the Bucks away.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
The C’s will take the floor again Saturday when they travel to Miami to face the Heat. Tip-off from American Airlines Arena is scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY Sports Images