Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big story line. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
But the Celtics were able to win Game 1, 113-107 in overtime, because they overcame the exploits of Antetokounmpo and Middleton by defending everything else. They played to their own strengths, accepted their shortcomings in their matchup issues, and controlled most of the game after halftime.
The Celtics countered by grabbing most of the 50-50 balls and outhustling the Bucks to offensive rebounds. The Celtics outscored Milwaukee, 22-4, in second-chance points, a byproduct of their fortitude and aggression in a game they desperately wanted.
Milwaukee wanted to dominate the speed of the game. It wanted to impose its athleticism and length upon Boston and play in transition.
“Just a fast pace,” Khris Middleton said of how Milwaukee wanted its offense to operate. He added, “We don’t want to get into a slow grind. That’s not our game and it hasn’t (been) all season long.”
And it wasn’t Sunday afternoon, either.
Thanks to Boston’s decision making and its effort to sprint back on defense, the C’s limited Milwaukee to only 83 shot attempts. That total would be shockingly low for a regulation game, let alone for a game that went to overtime.
I felt like yesterday’s win over the Bucks was more about survival than execution.
But as Brad and the team revealed post game, the Celtics set out to limit Milwaukee in certain areas and (for the most part) achieved those goals.
Yet when the final buzzer sounded it felt like I’d spent the last two hours having a double root canal.
I think it was the offense. I know it was the offense. Every possession was a god damn grind. So much dribbling, very little passing.
A quick scan of the stats shows Boston’s game numbers (41% FG, 104.8 ORTG) were just a hair under the regular season average (45% FG, 105.2 ORTG).
It’s the playoffs, Screw the style points.
On Page 2, we relive the Middleton shot.
Khris Middleton, Bucks forward: “That’s a play we’ve been practicing for a couple weeks now, preparing for that moment. We actually flipped the side of the [floor] we usually run it in practice on. Just got a good look. Giannis was surveying the floor. [I] just tried to get open [and] knew it was at that point where it was a catch-and-shoot situation. So [I thought] if I get it in my hands, just let it go. Somehow it dropped in for me.”
Brown: “I know Brad was saying just guard the 3-point line but switch on the flares. We’re thinking screens are coming. He shoots it from the hash mark with 0.5 seconds left. That’s a hell of a shot. Take my hat off to him.”
Stevens: “Well, obviously, Middleton made a 30-footer, and you don’t want to foul in that situation, but, you know, we could’ve done better.”
I’m going to nit-pick Jaylen Brown and say he should have been 6-inches closer to Middleton before the pass is made.
Sure, it’s a 30-footer but Middleton is able to shoot the ball with his normal release and that’s why he drilled it.
6-inches could have made the difference.
Some other links:
Herald: Horford does it all | Cs find antidote for Giannis | Tatum earns praise from veteran teammates | Globe – Young core passed first playoff test | NBC – Time for Rozier to step up, and he has | Horford worth every penny