Bucks 98, Celtics 97: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks overcame a slow start in their first game back from the All-Star break to hold off the Boston Celtics late in a 98-97 win at Fiserv Forum.

Player of the Game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

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Who else would it be? Giannis continued to show why he’s an MVP candidate. He came up huge in another big game finishing with 30 points, 13 rebounds and six assists. 19 of those 30 points came in the second half. Head coach Mike Budenholzer talked about how Giannis was able to take over during cold stretches on offense.

“He had several big baskets. It felt like a couple times they cut it to two, we came out, he got a big basket in the paint. I didn’t love us offensively tonight and Giannis was able to will us a couple of baskets that were big, kind of kept us afloat.”

Chase-down blocks are becoming a thing for the Greek Freak as well. He had two Thursday night including one on Jayson Tatum with under six minutes to go in the game. Giannis said that he thought he was going to get dunked on but that it was a winning play.

Play of the Game: Khris Middleton three for the lead

Middleton had a rough night on the offensive-end but came up with a clutch shot to give Milwaukee a three-point lead late in the game. He put up 12 points in the first half but was held scoreless until he knocked this one down.

The Good: Defense

Boston was held to 38.2% shooting. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford combined for 17-48 from the field. The Bucks had to finish the game on the defensive-end. With 3.5 seconds left, the Celtics had a chance to win it, but Irving failed to convert on a floater.

The not so Good: Offense

It was a sloppy game for both teams. The Bucks showed some rust coming off the All-Star break. They finished the game with 15 turnovers, including 10 in the first-half. They shot just 42% from the field which is under their season average (47.9%).

The weird: Shot clock violation

With under four seconds to go, Marcus Smart was able to tie up Giannis with 0.2 seconds left on the shot clock to force a jump ball. Giannis won by tipping the ball to Brook Lopez, but it was ruled a shot-clock violation because Lopez had possession of the ball. This set up the Celtics for a shot to win it.

Stat of the Game: 8

Nikola Mirotic made his debut for the Bucks. He finished with eight points in 14 minutes off the bench. He said that he felt great.

“I felt great. To be honest, a little bit nervous but the crowd showed me huge support and the teammates were great to me. For me the biggest thing was to win.”

There is no doubt that Mirotic fits this team perfectly. He is a versatile big-man that can space the floor and be a target for Giannis when he gets doubled in the lane.

In Case You Missed It:

*The win gave the Bucks the season series over the Celtics 2-1.

*Celtics forward Gordon Hayward did not play after spraining his right ankle during a workout on Tuesday.

*Milwaukee is 9-1 in their last 10 games.

What’s next?

The Bucks (44-14) host the Minnesota Timberwolves (27-30) on Saturday night.

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