For the first time in 143 days, the Celtics played a meaningful basketball game. Unfortunately, the Bucks beat the Celtics 119-112, but there were some positives to take away from the game. The Bucks started the game up 17-2 and then Marcus Smart checked into the game and the Celtics played the Bucks pretty evenly throughout the rest of the game. Kemba Walker was on a minutes restriction, but played extremely well in his limited time. He put up 16 points in 19 minutes on 5-9 from the field and 3-6 from three. Gordon Hayward had a good all around outing, posting 17 points, 9 rebounds, and 6 assists: Jaylen Brown struggled at the start, but finished strong with 22 points. Daniel Theis did Daniel Theis things with 13 points and 12 rebounds to go along with 2 blocks.
The biggest stories from the game were Marcus Smart, Brad Wanamaker, and Jayson Tatum. Marcus Smart entered the game at the 6:55 mark of the first quarter and set the tone for this Celtics team almost immediately. He finished the game with a game high 23 points and he played very respectable defense against the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. Brad Wanamaker gave us hope last night as he posted a team high +9 with 14 points and 6 rebounds. If he can sustain that success throughout the bubble (especially with Kemba being limited) that would help the Celtics tremendously. Last, but not least, Jayson Tatum was probably the most talked about player last night, but not in a good way. The reigning Eastern Conference player of the month played perhaps his worst game of the season. He put up 5 points on 2-18 shooting (One of the baskets counted for him even though the Bucks tipped it in) and was a team worst -13 from the field.
The Bucks are arguably the best team in the NBA and the Celtics only lost by 7. Yes, the Bucks were missing Eric Bledsoe, Pat Connaughton, and Marvin Williams, but the Celtics had Kemba on a restriction and Tatum playing one of his worst games ever. Giannis put up an insane 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists while his all star teammate Khris Middleton, noted Celtics cryptonite, put up 18 points on a below average 6-20 shooting including a dagger three with about a minute remaining in the 4th. Some have argued that Giannis Antetokounmpo should have fouled out and that arguement is very valid, but the refs did not see it that way.
Speaking of refs, they called way too many fouls last night as both teams shot a combined 68 free throws (34 a piece).
This game was a very fun game to watch and it would make an amazing playoff series if it were to happen. The Celtics showed that they are capable of hanging and competing with them and if all players are healthy, I would not be surprised if the Celtics give the Bucks a very tight playoff series. Even though the Celtics lost, it feels good to finally have Celtics basketball back.