The Milwaukee Bucks showed just how dangerous they can be during their 123-102 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday. They used a 24-2 run in the final seven minutes of the third quarter to turn a three point lead into a 98-73 blowout heading into the fourth period. As a result, the Bucks won by 21 points, making the first two games decided by 43 points. They also evened the series at 1-1.
Giannis Antetokounmpo played much better in every aspect of the game except for one. The potential NBA MVP still only shot 7 of 16 from the field. He was 7 of 21 from the floor in Game 1. However, Antetokounmpo matched the energy of the Celtics. Therefore, the Bucks weren’t facing a huge deficit early-on.
In Game 1, the Bucks were down 26-17 at the end of the first quarter. They were only down 30-25 in Game 2 at the end of one quarter. Therefore, the Bucks were able to take the lead at the break with a 34-25 second quarter spurt. Once again, the team with the slight halftime lead, broke the game open in the third quarter. Remember, the Celtics outscored the Bucks by 15 points in the third quarter of Game 1. The tables were reversed with a 21-point spread by the Bucks in Game 2. But what was the big difference?
Yes, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 29 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists. However, Khris Middleton had another strong game with 28 points and 7 rebounds on 10 of 18 shooting. Middleton made 7 of 10 shots from 3-point land. In all, the Bucks made a team-record 20 of 47 3-pointers.
The Bucks also had emerging star Eric Bledsoe breakout in Game 2. Bledsoe scored 21 points and dished out a team-high 5 assists in the win. Bledsoe connected on 7 of 12 shots in the game, including 3 of 5 from 3-point range. Furthermore, Bledsoe outplayed Kyrie Irving in Game 2.
The Celtics’ star point guard finished with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists on 4 of 18 shooting. Instead of being able to take the game over in the middle of the third, Kyrie and the Celtics disappeared. Irving also didn’t attempt a single foul shot in the loss. Maybe he was happy with the one game. In reality, the Celtics couldn’t fake the desperation the Bucks had to play with on their home court.
The starting front court played fairly well. Marcus Morris led the Celtics with 17 points. His jump shot cut the lead to 74-71, triggering the game-deciding run by the Bucks. Jaylen Brown dropped in 16 points, while Al Horford scored 15 points. They were the only double figure scorers for the Celtics. As much as Irving struggled, Tatum was just as bad. He scored 5 points in 24 minutes.
The Bucks also outrebounded the Celtics 54-45. Pat Connaughton came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds. It also helped the Bucks to hold the Celtics to 39.5 percent from the field. Most of the numbers were fairly even. However, the Celtics only made 10 3-points. As a result, they lost that aspect of the game by 30 points.
The Bucks didn’t change their gameplan at all. They basically played better and harder than they had to against the Detroit Pistons. Still, the fact remains Antetokounmpo needs to implement the post game to have the most success on the offensive end. Otherwise, the Bucks are going to live and die by the three. After two games, Antetokounmpo is shooting 37.8 percent from the field. He is shooting 55.6 percent from 3-point range. How long can the Bucks survive if this continues? In fact, Antetokounmpo’s most scintillating move of the game was a huge traveling violation missed by the refs.
Game 3 is set for Friday night at 8 p.m. ET. Currently, the Celtics are 1.5 point favorites. That’s an interesting number since the first two games were decided by over 20 points.