Thursday, April 11, 2024

Bucks 104, Celtics 91: Cold shooting night for short-handed C's leads to loss in Milwaukee

The Celtics dropped their final road game of the regular season Tuesday night in a 104-91 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum.

Boston rested their top two frontcourt players in Al Horford (left big toe sprain) and Kristaps Porzingis (right hamstring injury management). The C's also made NBA history in this game by becoming the first team ever to go an entire game without a free throw attempt. The Bucks shot only two free throws themselves.

Milwaukee came out firing right away in the opening quarter and did not look back, outscoring the Celtics 37-21 in the first frame. While Boston was an ice cold 31% from the field after the first quarter, the Bucks were at nearly 74% from the floor, including 8-of-10 from three. Brook Lopez got
the offense going early for the home team with four three pointers alone, as he finished with 15 points, six rebounds and two blocks on 5-of-8 shooting from long distance.

It was a low effort showing from the Celtics, who couldn't manage to even reach 100 points by the end of the contest on 39.8% from the field and 32.7% from three. Jayson Tatum led all scorers for Boston with 22 points, six assists, and five rebounds on 9-of-19 shooting and 3-of-9 from deep. Jaylen Brown added 14 points (7-of-19), 10 rebounds and the former Buck Jrue Holiday chipped in 12 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Boston -- to finish with a league-best 27-14 record on the road.

To give you an idea of how the Celtics approached this game, Tatum and Derrick White (nine points) were caught on one of TNT's mics saying "next time we get on a plane we mean business."

For Milwaukee, it was a balanced scoring attack with six different players reaching double figures. Patrick Beverley, who was newly inserted into the Bucks starting lineup, led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds on 8-of-13 shooting from the field and 4-of-8 from beyond the arc. While the Bucks were happy to get out of this game with a win, the focus now lies on the health status of their MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo -- who went down late in the third quarter grabbing his left leg in what is currently being diagnosed as a left calf strain after finishing with 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Despite the Celtics holding Milwaukee to 15 total points in the third period and cutting a 24-point deficit to 11 heading into the final frame, coach Joe Mazzulla pulled his starters with just over six minutes left to play and took an optimistic view on the loss.
"I think it’s good for us to be in a bunch of different situations," Mazzulla said. "That was the first time where the game was not going our way since, I don't remember when. So, to me it's like that's a good opportunity to just kind of play through that."
The Celtics head back to TD Garden and wrap up the regular season with a three-game homestand. They will host the New York Knicks (47-32) Thursday night at 7:30 pm ET on TNT.

Game Notes:

Boston was out-rebounded 49-38 and outscored in the paint 40-34, while the Bucks hit 53.1% of their attempts and 17-of-36 (47.2%) from long distance. Milwaukee also handed out 29 assists (18 turnovers) on 43 baskets and the Celtics had 27 dimes (12 turnovers) on 37 made shots.

Eli Weisberger

Photo used courtesy of Getty Images

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