The Milwaukee Bucks delivered the first punch in Game 1, the Boston Celtics took the blow, bounced back off the ropes and delivered an uppercut jab in Game 2 with a 109-86 victory to even up the Eastern Conference semifinals series.
With no Marcus Smart, both the Celtics defense and offense came out firing as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and the boys jumped out to a quick 18-3 lead and never looked back.
As the team led by as many as 26 points in the game, the Celtics really relied on defense and more consistency behind the stripe to get the job done against Giannis Antetounmpo and the Bucks.
Boston Celtics come out strong, deliver counterpunch in Game 2 vs Milwaukee Bucks
In fact, the C’s frustrated the Greek Freak in the first half. Limiting him at the rim primarily when guarded straight up by the unmovable force known as Grant Williams, who was also key in the team outscoring the Bucks from beyond the arc 60-9.
Although the Celtics did get away from the ball movement that propelled them out to a big first half lead, the team did show resiliency throughout the game and continued to swing back every time the Bucks went on a run.
In all, a good night in Boston and a good response from a team without their best defensive player in Marcus Smart.
"“We didn’t love the way we came out last game, just in general, on both ends of the floor. It felt like we could obviously play much better,” Boston Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said following the game as transcribed by Celtics.com. “We wanted to match their physicality and punch back first. I talked about getting caught off guard a little bit and getting punched in the mouth last game. The big message was to show them who we are and who we’ve been all year, responding to losses in a certain way, and we did that.”"
With ball movement, stingy defense and behind the hot shooting of Brown in that first half, the Celtics showed Antetounmpo and the defending NBA Champions that this will be a heavyweight bout that will most likely go down to the final round.
Again, without Smart, here are 3 players who stepped up their game to help the Boston Celtics deliver a knockout punch in Game 2.