BOSTON — The Milwaukee Bucks were riding high heading into TD Garden on Thursday night, but the Boston Celtics made sure to put a halt to that on their home floor.
The Bucks, who entered the contest with a perfect 7-0 record, experienced some déjà vu from last season’s first-round NBA playoff series as Boston outshined Milwaukee in a 117-113 victory.
It was a record-breaking night for the C’s, who connected on 24 (!) 3-pointers in the primetime showdown, easily topping the previous franchise high mark of 19. Kyrie Irving knocked down six of those treys within his team-high, 28-point performance, while Marcus Morris logged 15 of his 17 points from beyond the arc. Gordon Hayward and Al Horford also shined with 18 points apiece.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (33 points, 11 rebounds) was his usual overpowering self, but not even a stellar performance from the Greek Freak could lead the Bucks to a road win.
With the victory, the Celtics improve to 6-2, while the Bucks fall to 7-1.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Jayson Tatum
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Semi Ojeleye
C: Al Horford
Jaylen Brown was not active for the contest due to foot soreness.
The Celtics were not gun-shy from beyond the arc in the early goings, connecting on 5-of-14 3-point attempts en route a 23-16 lead after the first quarter. Horford knocked down a pair of treys to lead all scorers with six points after one, while Hayward wasn’t far behind with five points. The Bucks struggled mightily from all areas on offense in the first, as the visitors shot 20 percent from range and posted a 31 percent overall field goal percentage. No Milwaukee player scored more than three points in the opening frame, including Antetokounmpo, who was limited to just two.
BUCKS PUNCH BACK
After the C’s held control throughout the first quarter, the Bucks showed a ton of fight to open the second, opening the quarter on a 13-2 run to take their first lead of the game at the 8:16 mark. But thanks to seven 3-pointers in the final eight-plus minutes of the frame, Boston was able to take a 55-53 lead into the break.
Milwaukee’s surge was paced by Antetokounmpo, who rebounded from his quiet start and logged 12 second-quarter points to lead all scorers at the half with 14. Boston’s starters carried the load for the home team, as Hayward, Irving, Horford and Ojeleye recorded 24 of the Celtics’ 32 points in the quarter. It was an all-around shooting bonanza in the first half, as the teams combined for 44 3-point attempts and only seven free throws.
LET IT FLY
Boston came out firing from the get-go in the third, and that trend continued throughout the quarter as the green’s sharpshooting led to a 93-78 lead heading into the final frame.
Irving (11 points in the quarter) set the tone for the C’s in the third, scoring the team’s first nine points all via 3-pointers. Boston knocked down eight buckets from beyond the arc in the frame, including a pair from Morris, who provided a boost off the bench with eight points in the third. Horford and Aron Baynes also had fine quarters with five points apiece, as did Tatum, who was held scoreless in the first half.
The Bucks couldn’t find a rhythm in the third, but Malcolm Brogdon’s 10 points in the quarter helped keep Milwaukee in striking distance.
FIGHT TO THE FINISH
The Bucks showed a lot of fight as the fourth got underway, opening the quarter on a 12-0 run to cut the Celtics’ lead to just three. Milwaukee threatened to steal the momentum altogether, but 3-pointers in the ensuing minutes from Tatum, Irving, Morris and Hayward maintained Boston’s slim advantage.
After Brogdon cut the Celtics’ lead to 113-111 with 1:45 remaining, neither team could find points until Eric Bledsoe earned a trip to the line with 12.8 seconds to go. The Bucks guard only could connect on one of two attempts, though, allowing Irving to swell the C’s lead to 115-112 with a pair of free throws.
Milwaukee opted to attack the basket instead of going for a potential game-tying three with four seconds to go, but Antetokounmpo only could knock down one of two free throws after a Marcus Smart foul. From there, Horford drained a pair from the charity stripe to ensure a Celtics win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Ojeleye made his first start of the season Thursday night, and he celebrated with this highlight-reel slam.
The Celtics hit the road for a Saturday night date with the Indiana Pacers. Tip-off from Bankers Life Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports