BOSTON — Milwaukee guard Damian Lillard got his first taste of the Celtics-Bucks rivalry that’s expected to make a huge impact on the Eastern Conference this season.

Lillard spent 11 seasons with the Trail Blazers, playing leader on a Portland team that always fell short and didn’t have enough talent to reach the promised land. Now with Milwaukee, the seven-time All-Star guard has that chance to get over the hump and use that 40-plus-foot outside shooting range for more than just expected playoff disappointment.

However, that all starts with the East.

Hosted by the Celtics on Wednesday night, Lillard and the Bucks were handed a tight 119-116 defeat in the first of three regular season matchups to come between the two.

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“I think the skillset that they all have, you know when you’ve got five guys out there with the ability to shoot the way they do. That’s dangerous,” Lillard told reporters postgame, per team provided video. “But I think they play for each other. You can tell that they bought into making the extra pass. They driving to the paint, when everybody sinks in, they kick it out and then they play off the catch and drive again and make you react. … They know that that’s a winning brand of basketball.”

Taking on a Celtics team that’s an NBA Finals book for many and has spent the better part of the last half-decade chasing Banner 18 makes for a pressure-filled night, right? Especially when Lillard is the presumed missing piece that A) got Jrue Holiday traded out of Milwaukee and B) helped keep Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee.

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So, the most important question of the night: how did Lillard do?

The Celtics, from the opening tip, were the more aggressive team. In fact, the score-breaking basket of the night came courtesy of a Jaylen Brown poster jam when the 27-year-old blew by Antetokounmpo.

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Lillard, on the other hand, took time to get involved but did when it mattered the most.

Entering the final frame of the night, Lillard had just 17 points, but in the fourth fed off the energy of Milwaukee’s last-minute bid. He scored 10 of 37 points for the Bucks in the fourth quarter, connecting on two critical 3-point baskets before the final buzzer sounded.

That makes it too difficult to tell if Lillard’s up for the challenge of performing in the Boston-Milwaukee rivalry, but no less entertaining when the lights shined their brightest.

Final verdict: Too early to tell.

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Featured image via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images