Unlike the first contest between the Bucks and the Celtics, game two was a blowout from the start with the Bucks falling behind early in the 1st quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo started off hot on 4/4 shooting and 10 points but Jaylen Brown responded with 12 points of his own for the Celtics as they took the lead 33-22 at the end of the first quarter. What slowed the Bucks yet again was their inability to take care of the ball as they committed 7 turnovers in the 1st quarter alone. The Bucks ended the game with 15 turnovers total in comparison to 5 Celtics’ turnovers.

 

The second quarter was reminiscent of game one as the Bucks went on a 13-2 run with Shabazz Muhammad chipping in 7 points coming off the bench, tying the game briefly 35-35. From that point on, the Bucks would never tie the Celtics again. Unlike in game one where Khris Middleton scored 7 first quarter points, Middleton took his first shot of the game at the 6:17 mark of the 2nd quarter. The first half ended with the Celtics up 60-51 despite Milwaukee shooting 62% from the field at the half. The deficit was mostly due to the 10 turnovers accrued in two quarters played. Malcolm Brogdon committed 4 of those turnovers for the Bucks by halftime despite scoring 8 points coming off the bench with Eric Bledsoe in foul trouble midway through the 2nd quarter. Brogdon didn’t turn the ball over for the rest of the night but finished with only 10 points. Giannis and Middleton combined to go 12/14 from the field at the end of the first half.

 

Most notably, Jabari Parker’s presence has been all negative in both playoff games as he saw 5 minutes in the 1st quarter and didn’t check back into the game until the 6:11 mark in the 3rd quarter. The Celtics proceed to go on an 8-2 run in less than two minutes with Jabari on the floor which prompted a Bucks timeout with 4:31 remaining in the 3rd. Jabari finishes his night shortly afterwards and would not take the floor again, finishing with 0 points on 0/2 shooting, 2 rebounds, and a turnover in 10 minutes of action leading to a -15 plus/minus. Meanwhile on the Celtics’ side of the ball, Shane Larkin and Greg Monroe had nice bounce back games coming off the bench in which they combined for 6 points total in game one to finish with 23 points combined in game two. Larkin notably hit a 3pt shot with time expiring in the 3rd quarter bringing the Celtics’ lead to 15 at 90-75, despite the Bucks still shooting 60% from the field.

 

The Bucks made a small comeback at one point after the 3rd quarter when the Celtics’ lead extended to 20 at the 7:22 mark of the 4th quarter. The lead was brought down to 10 at the 4:34 mark with the score at 105-95 but the run proved to be all for naught as the Celtics went on an 8-2 run and took the double digit lead with them to win the game 120-106.

 

Giannis and Middleton combined for 55 points on 23/31 shooting but shot only 5/13 from the charity stripe. The Bucks as a team shot 41% from the free throw line shooting 7/17 which negated their effective 3pt shooting of 41% (7/17) from distance. The Celtics’ bench scored 41 points in comparison to 25 Bucks bench points with over half of those points coming from Larkin and Monroe on the Celtics side of the ball and 18 from Marcus Morris alone. As mentioned before, turnovers were the key issue for the Bucks with this factor negating the Bucks’ offensive efficiency as they shot 59% from the field in comparison to Boston going 53% from the field. Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, and Al Horford continued their strong play for the Celtics and combined for 69 points tonight.

 

With the Bucks down two games, a return home to Milwaukee for game three on Friday is much needed as they begin their two game home stand in their effort to advance in the playoffs. Expectations are that the team will respond by taking better care of the ball as two games in a row have proven to be plagued by careless ball movement and errant passing leading to 35 total turnovers. Jabari Parker needs to step up for the team if he wants to have a spot on the roster next year with free agency looming as his two performances leave much to be desired. Jabari has shot 1/7 in over 25 minutes of total time played in the first two games and is averaging a -14.5 plus/minus rating. Eric Bledsoe also needs to improve as he has shot a dismal 9/25 for 21 points over the last two games whereas Boston’s Terry Rozier has been thriving, scoring 46 points (23 in both games) on 15/32 shooting and 7/14 from 3pt range. The big question that will be asked of the Bucks is who will help Giannis and Middleton score as they make up only 2 of the 5 players on the floor at any given time and have combined to score over 121 points in two games. Those points are well over half of the total points scored by the whole team (213). The Bucks can only hope for stronger play at home and for someone, anyone to step up from this beleaguered squad as they look to take game three from the Celtics on Friday night.

 

Casey Graff

@cygnalfyre

 

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