Celtics escape nailbiter against the Bucks in overtime win, 112-108.
The Celtics escaped Milwaukee with a narrow victory in overtime, 112-108.
Boston was carried by Isaiah Thomas who tallied 37 points, 8 assists, and three rebounds. Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk also supplied good numbers, and stepped up when it was needed to win the game for the C's in overtime.
The Bucks saw a huge contribution from their bench, especially in crunch time. Giannis Antetokounmpo put up 21 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists, while Michael Beasley (17 pts), Malcolm Brogdon (11 pts), and Greg Monroe (14 pts) all kept the Bucks in the game in the fourth quarter.
Tony Snell (12 pts, 4-for-5 from deep) also tried to play the hero in overtime, but couldn't finish off the Celtics in Milwaukee.
-Avery Bradley (achilles) and Al Horford (groin) remained benched against the Bucks.
-Jaylen Brown started his second consecutive game, racking up 27 minutes after a career night in Orlando.
-Celtics extend win streak to three.
-The win ties the Raptors for the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
The Celtics opened up the game scorching from the floor and locking down the paint on the other end. Jae Crowder sank two three-pointers in the first 2 1/2 minutes to jump out to an 11-2 lead over the Bucks. Antetokounmpo was held down by exceptional defense by the Celtics, which helped them catch fire to open the first.
Finally, Antetokounmpo was able to find some consistency, alongside rookie Malcolm Brogdon, who gave the Bucks a surge when he came off the bench to replace Matthew Delavadova. Brogdon was able to help cut the deficit back to six, but with under two minutes left in the frame, the C's lit it up. Isaiah knocked down a three, Marcus Smart was fouled on a three-point attempt and hit all three free-throws, and Gerald Green closed out the quarter with a buzzer beater three to extend the lead to 15.
The Celtics couldn't carry over the momentum from the first quarter into the second. Boston was only able to convert one basket in the first 5 3/4 minutes of the period. Fortunately for the C's, having a 15 point lead lets you go cold for a bit. Also fortunately for the C's, Isaiah Thomas is on the roster. The little guy subbed back in with about six minutes left in the quarter and immediately revitalized the offensive game for the Celtics.
Coming off the screen, IT pulled up for a three straightaway from the basket, and he took a shove to the back, drawing the whistle. Thomas drilled each free throw to put himself into double figures in the scoring column.
That wasn't the end of his scoring in the second, he also knocked down two more threes, a layup and found his way to the line again to tally 23 points in the first half.
Jason Kidd must have said some great things in the locker room during halftime, because the Bucks came out in the second half a different team. It took a bit for them to find their rhythm, but once they did, they were able to claw their way back into the ballgame. The Greek Freak spurred the run for the Bucks, starting with an and-one layup with just under 10 to go in the third. 69-58, Celtics.
Milwaukee was able to stay within around 10 until about 4 1/2 left in the frame. Then, they rattled off a flurry of buckets to cut the deficit in half, capped off by a Michael Beasley floater to make it 76-71, Celtics.
That's when both teams went cold for a few minutes, snapped by a Tyler Zeller layup, and followed by a Kelly Olynyk three. Boston heads into the final break up by eight, 81-73.
Giannis Antetokounmpo didn't want to be out of this game, and he didn't allow the Bucks to go quietly into the night. But he was helped out by his teammates, especially Beasley, Brogdon, and Monroe. Beasley and Brogdon opened up the final frame with a quick run to chip down the Celtics lead to three. Then a back-and-forth sequence started with the Celtics finding the bottom of the net, only to give up an easy layup or dunk on the other end.
With about six minutes left, Antetokounmpo knotted it up with a deep three, 90 a piece. Isaiah answered with a layup to retake the lead, but then Giannis switched to the role of distributor and fed Greg Monroe for an easy layup under the basket. Tied again at 92.
The Bucks were able to take their first lead of the night with 4:54 left in the game on an and-one converted by Monroe, but the Celtics quickly surged back with IT sinking a three, and Jaylen Brown knocking down his own long-ball. Celtics up 102-97, but Greg Monroe came up big in the clutch.
Monroe hit a huge turnaround jumper, then hit two more free throws to will the Bucks back to within one. Then at the line with an opportunity to retake the lead, and he was only able to drop one of the two free throws.
At the other end, after both teams turned it over, Isaiah had a chance to win it, but couldn't convert the game winner and the game was headed to overtime.
Free basketball! Neither team could find the bottom of the net through the first minute and a half until Marcus Smart broke the stalemate with a crafty layup in traffic. 104-102, Boston.
After a defensive stop, Jae Crowder on the drive found Amir Johnson who put up the baby hook and gave the C's another two. Then, on the other end, Matthew Delavadova was called for an illegal screen and the Celtics were on their way back with a four point lead with three minutes left in the extra period.
Crowder quickly found Olynyk cutting to the basket for a dominant throwdown and the Celtics force a timeout out of Jason Kidd and the Bucks up six.
Coming out of the timeout, Jabari Parker takes the ball up and drives straight o the rim where an eager Amir Johnson was set, and draws the offensive foul. Four straight possessions the Bucks turn it over.
Finally, with a 1:46 left in overtime, the Bucks convert a bucket on a three from Tony Snell. Celtics bring it down and can't find a good shot, with about two seconds left on the shot clock, Isaiah heaves up a three from the left wing, and gets nothing but backboard. Milwaukee quickly brought it down the floor and found Tony Snell for another three from the exact same spot on the right wing, and it's a tie game again. 108-108.
Celtics ball. Crowder finds Smart posted up on the right block, who passes it to Amir across the lane, but he couldn't convert the shot after a lot of contact disrupted it. Milwaukee goes to Snell again, but he didn't pass the heat check and back rims it.
With a head full of steam IT went straight for the bucket after securing the rebound and getting a body blow from the much bigger Greg Monroe. Thomas blew past his man, but missed the layup. Amir snags the offensive rebound and sends it back out to Thomas in the corner, who finds Crowder on the wing, who then drives and draws the foul. Two free throws later, the Celtics are up two, 110-108.
28 seconds to go, Delavadova takes his time dribbling around the arc and gives it to Giannis with about 15 left. The Greek Freak dribbles across the lane and puts up a contested fadeaway... can't hit it and Crowder grabbed the rebound before being pushed out of bounds. Whistle's blown and Jae headed back to the line where he calmly hit both to give the C's a four point lead.
That did it for the Bucks, and the C's escape their third OT game of the season 112-108.
Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Benny Sieu/USA TODAY Sports