One day after Danny Ainge had a busy trade deadline, the Celtics’ roster put on a performance like a team worthy of the investments. Even without their main deadline acquisition, the C’s remaining roster showed up with a renewed spark in a 122-114 win over the Bucks in Milwaukee Friday night.
With the win, Boston snaps a two-game losing skid and moves to 22-23 on the season. They’re now 9-16 on the road this year.
After a slow start on Wednesday, the Celtics came out with tremendous energy, hitting five of their first six shots. Boston got up by as much as seven, but the Bucks caught up to take a brief lead at the two-minute mark. Jayson Tatum helped put together an 8-3 C’s run to close the quarter, giving his team a 32-26 advantage after one.
The second quarter mirrored the first, with the Celtics holding a single-digit lead until Milwaukee tied things around the two minute mark. This time, Boston closed things out on a 5-0 run, and took a 60-55 lead into the half.
Coming out of the break, Boston exploded with a 22-7 run, highlighted by a Jayson Tatum to Robert WIlliams alley-oop dunk.
While Tatum’s biggest highlight of the quarter was a pass, he did plenty of scoring as well. He had 13 points in the third alone, bringing his total to 28 through three. The Celtics got up by as much as 20, and took a 103-89 lead into the fourth.
With the game solidly in hand, Brad Stevens was able to get key players some rest with his team in the middle of a five games in seven days stretch. It also allowed deadline acquisition Mo Wagner to see the floor for the first time with the Celtics – he had three points and five rebound in 10 minutes in the fourth quarter.
Powered by his monster third quarter, Tatum led all scorers with 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting. He added seven assists and six rebounds to the stat sheet as well. It was also a much-needed turnaround game for Marcus Smart. He was lights out from the floor, scoring 23 points on 8-of-15 shooting, including going 7-of-10 from deep. Kemba Walker (21 points) and Jaylen Brown (18 points) also scored in double figures.
With the trade of Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson remaining in COVID protocol, Robert Williams got his first start of the year at center. He made the most of it, filling up the stat sheet with seven points, nine rebounds, six assists, and five blocks.
On the defensive end, the Celtics showed a complete turnaround from Wednesday’s loss. No Bucks scored over 20 points, and Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed just 16. That’s his fourth-lowest total of the season.
Boston’s four-game road trip comes to an end Saturday night in Oklahoma City, with the first meeting of the year between the Celtics and Thunder. Tip-off is set for 9:00 p.m., with pregame coverage beginning at 8:30 on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.