Boston Celtics’ two superstars delivered when it mattered most. In the end, Jaylen Brown started the ball rolling and Jayson Tatum completed the job.
Following a lacklustre performance in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semi-final series against Milwaukee, the Boston Celtics showed a marked improvement in Game 2, winning 109-86 in a commanding performance.
With their season hanging in the balance, Brown stated, “we knew we had to come out and play like it was on the line.”
A game-high 30 points and a postseason career-high six 3-pointers later, Brown was out of the game. With his leadership, the club was able to bounce back after a poor performance in the first game.
Ime Udoka, the Celtics’ head coach, remarked that the team had adapted effectively. “Game 1 taught us a few things, and we saw that we weren’t reacting properly to the manner we were playing. We haven’t been outmuscled like this all season, despite the presence of two huge clubs. I believe that our players were proud of it, and we were certain that we would give it our all tonight.”
That first-half surge was spearheaded by Brown, who tallied a playoff-record 25 points. At 18-3, he was a crucial part of Boston’s dominance.
Brown said, “It’s the playoffs.” “The strongest will prevail. Regardless of the outcome, every game is important.”
Only 10 two-point field goals were scored by the Celtics in the first game of the playoffs or regular season, a record low for both. As a result, Udoka criticised the team’s lack of focus on the mid-range game. When Brown sank three mid-range shots early in the game on Tuesday, he established the tone.
Prior to the game, Udoka stated he talked to Brown and Tatum about it.
Udoka remarked, “We knew them were exposed.” “No need to push towards the bigs and just take the 3 if you over penetrate. Two of our best shooters are in the mid-range, and we appreciate their efforts, particularly when they return to the drop zone.”
A few hours before the game began, Celtics forwards Grant Williams stated he had a feeling Brown was going to have a great day.
Williams remarked, “I saw it in his eyes.” “We were cheering and clapping for the team at the start of the game, so I was just saying, “OK, do your thing.” By not just hitting down easy shots but also moving the ball, he set the offensive tone and made a statement about his level of aggressiveness.”
In the first half, Brown was in command, but in the second half, Tatum stepped up and put up 19 of his 29 points.
Tatum, like Williams, said he knew heading into the game that Brown would be primed for a huge night. Even more importantly, he had confidence in his team’s ability to bounce back.
When Tatum spoke, he claimed that “from top to bottom we understood that we had to play better” after the team’s poor performance in the previous game. “It’s as easy as pie.”
In general, the Celtics’ defence was excellent but Giannis Antetokounmpo was particularly challenging for the Bucks. The two-time MVP scored 28 points, but he finished 11-of-27 from the field and 5-of-9 at the line.
NBA coach Mike Budenholzer claimed the Celtics’ defence ought to be commended for their efforts to keep him off the court.
“The people on him, they’re solid, excellent, good defenders, and then quite a bit of assistance,” Budenholzer said. “Is he going to kick it and get more 3-pointers, or do you have to finish against one-on-one defence? That’s the question that has to be answered. So, I’d say it’s a touch of both. Nevertheless, Giannis is an expert at solving problems.”
Upon hearing what Budenholzer had to say about sorting things out, Antetokounmpo responded as follows: “I do my best. I’m doing my best to decipher it.”
NBA playoffs are here, Antetokounmpo said. “There is no doubt that they will become physical. They’ll become a little rougher. A lot of fouls won’t be thrown this time around; instead, there will be a lot of activity and a lot of discipline. However, you’ll still have to keep chipping away at the game, finding ways to make it yours. Make smart decisions on the field. Identify your colleagues and join them in the paint. My thinking and the team’s mindset will not alter no matter what they do.”
As the NBA’s 2021-22 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart was out due to a right quad injury, the Boston Celtics performed well defensively. The Celtics are hoping he can return to the lineup for Game 3 in Milwaukee on Saturday, with three days of rest between now and then.
It was Udoka’s decision to yank Brown from the starting lineup at 99-86 with 2:51 to go in the fourth quarter since he had already played 38 minutes, he said. Brown said that his hamstring was OK and that he will be ready to play in Game 3 and that injuries are a part of the season.
There is nothing more important than the playoffs, Brown remarked. “We must all do our part to ensure that we are ready to perform. Everyone has nagging aches and pains at this time of year, but you can’t use that as an excuse. Find a mental and physical means of conquering whatever is holding you back and simply get it done.”
This was the Celtics’ first real playoff test after they swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round, and Brown was interested to see how they would react to it. Tatum was optimistic that the reaction would be favourable.
“Every game isn’t going to be flawless,” Tatum added. “We’re taking on the reigning champions in this matchup. The first game, they were hit in the mouth. From a competitive sense, I was certain that we would be ready to play tonight. The playoffs, in my opinion, are all about making changes from game to game.”
This story was written in part by ESPN’s Jamal Collier.