Celtics close out regular season with a win over the Bucks, 112-94
The Boston Celtics took game 82 of the season with a win over the Milwaukee Bucks, 112-94.
The Bucks left four of their starters back in Milwaukee, but it was still a nailbiter through the first 36 minutes of game time. Then the fourth quarter/Celtics highlight reel started.
The C's were led by the trio of Gerald Green (18 pts, 6 reb), Amir Johnson (16 pts, 5 reb), and Jae Crowder (16 pts, 5 reb, 3 stl). Crowder sparked the Celtics offense throughout the game, and Green supplied the volume shooting that got the Celtics back on track in the late game. Amir also came through in the third to keep Boston in the game during a fist-fight of a quarter.
Meanwhile, the Bucks saw solid contributions from Michael Beasley (15 pts, 5 reb, 3 stl, 2 blk), Spencer Hawes (15 pts, 5 reb) off the bench, Rookie of the Year candidate Malcolm Brogdon (11 pts, 5 reb, 3 ast) and Rashad Vaughn (14 pts, 4 ast).
Isaiah Thomas (13 pts, 8 ast) did not lead the team in scoring for the first time since January, and with the win (along with the Cavaliers loss to the Toronto Raptors), the Celtics officially claim the one seed in the Eastern conference.
You would think that an NBA team resting four of its five starters against an NBA team playing its full lineup would be a blowout. Well the first quarter was! ...Just not in favor of the better team.
The Bucks were hot out of the gate, scorching the C's defense early to the tune of a 4-for-5 start from the floor.
The Celtics couldn't find really any offense until Jae Crowder rattled home two straight three-pointers to pull Boston ahead momentarily.
But the Bucks were relentless and closed the quarter on a 19-9 run.
Only good part about the first quarter? Some highlights from Jaylen Brown and Gerald Green:
Jaylen on the breakaway! #NBARooks pic.twitter.com/qCtAv34uam— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2017
Gerald Green's got hops! pic.twitter.com/Ad30w8M3uW— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 13, 2017
The Bucks closed the frame on a buzzer beater by Mirza Teletovic, though, and went into the break up 36-25.
Mirza beats the buzzer and the Bucks lead the Celtics 35-25 at the end of the first!! pic.twitter.com/XIriLTnC2H— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) April 13, 2017
Important to note: Isaiah Thomas did not have a point in the first quarter.
I take it back: The MOST Celtics way to clinch the one seed is to need a 60-point second half from IT, and then for him to deliver.— Tom Westerholm (@Tom_NBA) April 13, 2017
Fortunately, basketball is a game of runs, and this matchup was no different. The second 12 minutes were a back-and-forth between the two teams, with the Celtics clawing to within striking distance two times in the first six minutes. But every time the C's would make it close, the Bucks would retaliate and pull away again.
Boston climbed to within four with just under seven minutes to play on a gorgeous spin move in the lane by Tyler Zeller, but again, Milwaukee surged back. A dunk by Malcolm Brogdon and five quick points from Spencer Hawes ballooned the Bucks lead back to double digits, and the Garden seemed quiet. But fear not, Celtics fans, for Isaiah Thomas is a spark plug.
With about 2:40 left, IT checked back in and did his typical thing to close the frame, quickly dropping ten points to give the C's their first lead since the opening quarter.
Celtics now on a 14-2 run to close the half. Isaiah scoreless for the first 21:43 has 10 in the last 2:17.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) April 13, 2017
With 10 points in the last 2:14 of the half, Isaiah Thomas has clinched the second best scoring average in Celtics history.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 13, 2017
Celtics head into the locker room up by one, 57-56.
Coming out of the break, it looked like the defense improved, but the offense was still missing a few pieces. Nobody could pull away, and the biggest lead of the entire quarter was a 4-point-lead built by the Celtics that was quickly erased by the Bucks.
The theme of the frame was defense, which was epitomized by Thon Maker who recorded three blocks all in the third.
Thon is a beast on the defensive end! #NBARooks #OwnTheFuture pic.twitter.com/3ZYZIIw5jT— NBA (@NBA) April 13, 2017
The only one who could seemingly find the bottom of the net was Amir Johnson:
Amir Johnson with a game-high 16 points for the Celtics in the third quarter. He's playing with force on both ends tonight.— Brian Robb (@CelticsHub) April 13, 2017
Over the course of the fist-fight in the third, the Celtics outscore the Bucks by one, and go into the fourth up 80-78.
Jaylen Brown gets fancy with the dribble and drills a fallaway jumper! pic.twitter.com/IYfvgK6RB1— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 13, 2017
You probably thought it would be a blowout when you heard the Bucks were resting players, didn't you? Well it took three quarters, but finally the Celtics figured it out.
Boston dominated in the fourth. A combination of great defense, pounding the paint, and the energy that seemed to be contagious from the fans to the players, the Celtics put together the best run of the night.
C's just exploded for a 24-2 run and this is a wrap! The Celtics will own the top seed in the East and are very likely to face CHI in 1st rd— Marc D'Amico (@Marc_DAmico) April 13, 2017
But the best way to describe this quarter? Dunks. High flying dunks. From everybody. Name a Celtics (above 5'10") and he hung onto the rim for some period of time in the fourth quarter. This Gerald Green throw down effectively sums up the final frame for the C's.
Gerald Green puts the icing on the (cup)cake! pic.twitter.com/7JNTr0PMKy— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 13, 2017
Celtics double-up the Bucks in the final quarter, 32-16 and close the season with a W, 112-94.
Follow Topher Lane on Twitter, @Topher_L. Photo credit: Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports.