Boston Celtics lose home opener to the Milwaukee Bucks 108-100

The Boston Celtics lost to the Milwaukee Bucks at home tonight, 108-100.

Although it was the Cs' second loss of the year (sigh), it was a night of 'firsts' for this 2017-2018 season. If you weren't able to tell from the big Leprechaun in the middle of the parquet or the hoard of fans in green; tonight was the Cs' first game of the year at the Garden, and also so happened to be the first time we've been able to watch the game with Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn behind the mic, which is always a pleasure. It was the first time that we got to see Abdel Nader in a regular season contest, and he went in early, just five minutes into the first quarter. He didn't do anything fancy, but I thought he looked fine. He finished with four points over eleven minutes and had this nice slam.
It was also the first time that we've seen the 'new-new' Boston Celtics, with their adjusted roster after Gordon Hayward fractured his ankle during last night's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. We all know how sad and gross it was, and apparently GH went into surgery tonight just as the Cs were taking the floor. Right after the starters were announced, just minutes before tipoff, Gordon showed up on the Jumbotron and had this message for us fans.
The Cs looked strong at the start of the game. Al Horford was aggressive, and consistently went after the Milwaukee Bucks' big men when he had the ball on offense. He also had two solid blocks early in the game, one of which was inaccurately called a foul. It was a clear as day, all-ball block, and was the first of many questionable calls from the referees. The second rejection, however, was handsome, indeed, and led to three points being added to the Cs' side of the scoreboard. Horford finished with a stat line of 13 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds.
At the beginning of the second quarter, a scuffle broke loose near half-court after Marcus Smart and Matthew Dellavedova got tangled-up on two consecutive plays.
Somehow Marcus got a 'bow to the face, but walked away with the technical foul. And somehow Della got away with elbowing someone, "right in the chops," as Heinsohn put it, but was only assessed a typical, personal foul. Isn't that weird? It truly seemed like the refs had marked the wrong days on their calendars and thought that today was Opposite Day. It happens. Like when you forget to set your clock back on Day Light Savings, and end up being late for work. Everybody makes mistakes.

But just like how LeBron James showed off his super-star status against the Celtics last night, Giannis Antetokounmpo showed why he's one of the favorites to win NBA MVP this season. He scored 37 points, grabbed 13 rebounds, had three assists, and swiped three steals tonight. Four other Bucks' players finished with double-digit points.
Also like last night, some of the younger players on the Celts showed up and had terrific games. Terry Rozier really shined over his 26 minutes, finishing with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. He was one of the only guys who were in-synch at the end of the game, and kept it interesting in the final minute by hitting a contested three-pointer to keep the game close. After the bucket, Rozier pressed against the inbound, got his hand on the ball, but the zebras blew it again, and called it a foul. The Bucks went to the free-throw line to shoot two. They hit them both, and that was that.

Although Jaylen Brown's minutes decreased drastically from last night, lowering from 39 minutes to just 28, he still impressed, and put up 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. He fouled out with 1:48 left in the fourth quarter, on an extremely soft call that got Tommy Heinsohn fired up. He yelled into the microphone, "that was absolutely BOOOGGUUSS," and Mike Gorman concurred, more gracefully stating that it was, "a tough call to foul out on." The referees seemed to make iffy calls all night, and after Jaylen's sixth, the, "you sucks!" from the home crowd could be heard from my couch.
The team doesn't look like they're completely comfortable playing with one another just yet. They didn't move the ball, and there was a ton of isolation offense happening, which had Tommy consistently signing throughout the fourth quarter. Kyrie Irving finished with 17 points, but only shot 28% from the floor. He hit just seven of his twenty-five shots, and went 2-7 from behind the arc. Marcus Smart didn't shoot much better, hitting 31% of his shots and finished the game 5-16 from the field.

He did, however, still have some classic, fancy-hands Kyrie handles though.
A few other takeaways from the game:

  • Everyone's favorite rookie, Jayson Tatum, finished with 8 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 assists over 36 minutes of action. 
  • The only Celtics' players to finish positive in the +/- category were Daniel Theis (+2) and Al Horford (+1). Tatum and Semi Ojeleye finished even, at 0. Yes, zero is an even number. 
  • I love Theis' defensive stance. Hands way up in the air. Lets not forget that he was the German League's Best Defender last year. 
  • Last year's ROY, Malcolm Brogdon, looked good, especially in the first half. He finished with 19 points. 
  • I'm really starting to wonder how good Jaylen will eventually become. He's been the team's ace these first two matchups. How high is his ceiling? 
  • A ton of young guys are getting minutes. I don't think it's exactly what we all hoped to see this early in the season, but with Gordon down, Brad Stevens has got to do, what he's got to do to keep things afloat. 
A tough loss, but this team will continue to improve with time. They'll play the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night in Philly.

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Photo: Sporting News