By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Celtics looked unstoppable in the second half against the Bucks in Game 1. On Tuesday night in Game 2, it was Milwaukee’s turn.
Led by their top offensive threats, the Bucks managed to deliver almost the same margin of victory as the Celtics’ Game 1 romp, taking Game 2 by a final of 123-102. MVP favorite Giannis Antetokounmpo bounced back in a major way with a team-leading 29 points to go with 10 rebounds. The “Greek Freak” went 13-for-18 from the free-throw line and 7-for-16 from the field, finding more space to slash to the rim and benefitting from his teammates stepping up their scoring.
Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, fell off the map. He scored just 9 points on 4-for-18 (22.2 percent) from the field. Other important Celtics scorers faltered in this one, too. The C’s needed 22 combined points from Brad Wanamaker, Guerschon Yabusele, Semi Ojeleye, and Robert Williams in order to get over 100.
Here are five main takeaways and observations from the Bucks’ big-time response on Tuesday.
— Giannis gets rolling in second half. He exploded in the third along with all of his teammates, but before that Antetokounmpo was once again having an inconsistent game driving to the basket. He was just 3-for-8 from the field in the first half, but benefitted from getting to the line early and often. As the Bucks began to heat up late in the second quarter, Giannis carried that into the third and the game was well in hand from there.
— Bucks take off in nightmare third quarter for Celtics. The Bucks’ secondary scorers showed up pretty much from the outset in this one. But they really exploded in the third while Antetokounmpo also began to assert himself. He scored 15 of his 29 points in the third, while the Bucks went 6-for-9 from three-point range as a team. In all, the Bucks throttled the Celtics by a 39-18 third-quarter score that made the entire fourth quarter garbage time.
— Secondary scoring comes up huge for Bucks. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe were ghosts in Game 1. In this one they were the Celtics’ boogeymen. Middleton scored 28 on 10-for-18 (55.8 percent) shooting and destroyed the C’s from downtown with a 7-for-10 mark. Bledsoe again looked disengaged when he turned it over on the first play of the game, but he bounced back nicely with 21 points. This was fairly simple. The Bucks’ top scorers showed up and the Celtics’ did not.
— Not enough from Kyrie. Irving got off to as bad a start as possible with an 0-for-6 first quarter. It never really got rolling from there. The Celtics’ leading scorer from Game 1 did facilitate well at times in the first half with his shots not falling. But the shooting just never came around at any point in this game. Hopefully he looks more like his Game 1 self when the series returns to Boston.
— Tatum, Hayward not much better. Jayson Tatum’s quiet series continued with just 5 points on 2-for-10 shooting. Hayward managed just a three-pointer and two free-throws. The third quarter is where the game was decided, but the shooting struggles of the Celtics’ biggest weapons came up short from wire to wire.
The series returns to Boston tied 1-1. Game 3 takes place at TD Garden on Friday night at 8 p.m.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.