Boston Celtics

The Celtics have evened up their playoff series with the Milwaukee Bucks. Know what that means? Game 5 has officially morphed from “if necessary” to just necessary.

So, the NBA has gotten off its ass and given the game a start time. Game 5 between the Celtics and Bucks is set for next Wednesday, May 11, at 7 p.m. ET. But first they have to play Games 3 and 4, which take place Saturday, May 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET and Monday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET, respectively.

After the Bucks took Game 1 while looking in complete command for most of the 48 minutes, the Celtics stormed out to a big early lead and held off a second-half run by the Bucks to win Game 2 by 23 points. The series seems like it’s going the distance at this point, but how we get there could be unpredictable.

For now, Boston and Milwaukee have to sit and stew in their Game 2 thoughts, as the teams get three straight days off from Wednesday-Friday. The C’s are hoping that’s enough time to get point guard Marcus Smart (thigh contusion) back in the lineup.

PHOTOS: Celtics take on Bucks in Game 2 of 2022 playoff series

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Bucks show Celtics how to close, and other Game 1 takeaways

  • Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown can obviously play much better than they did on Sunday. Basic improvements from the All-Star duo should make the games closer going forward. But the Bucks are not the Nets. They have experience, defense, and perhaps the best player on the planet right now. Even if the Celtics bounce back and play their best basketball, it’s still going to be a tough series.

    More takeaways from Game 1 of Celtics-Bucks…

    A bigger challenge

    May 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) blocks the shot of Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) in the second quarter during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    May 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) blocks the shot of Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum (0) in the second quarter during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    The Bucks present a greater threat than the Nets simply by virtue of being the defending champions, and it’s fair to say they have the best player in the series in Giannis, even if Jayson Tatum comes alive. But they’re also literally bigger.

    In the first round, the Celtics had a clear size and length advantage over the Nets, giving them the edge on both offense and defense. Now the Bucks have the size and length advantage, especially down low. They out-rebounded the Celtics 55-48 in Game 1, and outscored them 34-20 in the paint. They clearly have a much more disruptive perimeter defense than Brooklyn could ever have.

    The result was a rough offensive afternoon for the Celtics’ two stars. Tatum and Brown combined for just 33 points on 10-of-31 shooting from the field (32.3 percent) as the Bucks defense cramped their space and often forced contested shots. Tatum and Brown also shot just 6-for-10 on free throws and missed a handful of decent looks at the basket, a sign that frustration was setting in.

    “I think they just kind of sped us up,” Tatum told reporters after the game. “We’ve just got to do a better job of doing what we want to do and not letting them dictate that throughout the course of the game.”

    For the Celtics to respond and take Game 2, it’s going to take more than just relying on secondary scoring to bury open shots. Tatum and Brown will have to find a way to set up better shots of their own and finish the makeable ones. And they’ll have to dig in more than they had to against the Nets, because the Bucks aren’t going to stop defending and competing.

    “We can’t lose our faith, can’t lose our resiliency and our confidence,” Brown said after the game.”We’ve gotta come out and play Celtics basketball.”

  • Field Day

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 01 Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket while guarded by Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 1, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 01 Jrue Holiday #21 of the Milwaukee Bucks drives to the basket while guarded by Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 1, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    The most glaring statistical mismatch of Game 1 was two-point shooting. Milwaukee made 25-of-56 (44.6 percent) from inside the arc, compared to just 10-of-34 (29.4 percent) for Boston.

    This disparity happened mainly because of the aforementioned Bucks defense, which frustrated Tatum and Brown almost wire-to-wire. Offensively, the Bucks’ shooters weren’t dominant in their own right, but they were efficient enough and they made timely shots. Whenever the Celtics looked to have a run in them, the Bucks would pull back away.

    Most importantly for Milwaukee, they didn’t miss the injured Khris Middleton at the offensive end. Bobby Portis, Grayson Allen, Pat Connaughton, and Jevon Carter combined to score 41 points on exactly 50 percent shooting (15-of-30). Point guard Jrue Holiday scored a game-high 25. If the reserves continue to pick up the slack like that, they’re going to be a tough out.

  • That’s Gotta Hurt

    May 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) is hurt during a play against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second quarter during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    May 1, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) is hurt during a play against the Milwaukee Bucks in the second quarter during game one of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Celtics point guard Marcus Smart and center Robert Williams both appeared to get hurt during the game, but neither had to leave the game permanently. The Celtics tweeted that Smart was dealing with a right shoulder “stinger” and a right quad contusion.

    As for Williams, well … he got kicked in the nuts.

    2022-05-01 14-39-58

    Watch "2022-05-01 14-39-58" on Streamable.

    Imagine taking Giannis’ size-16 Nike directly to the frank & beans. Anyone with testicles can relate.

    So, Williams is probably going to be OK basketball-wise. Smart’s shoulder and quad issues will be something to monitor going into Game 2.

  • Busy Schedule

    BOSTON, MA - MAY 01 Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket past Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 1, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    BOSTON, MA – MAY 01 Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket past Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks during Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden on May 1, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

    As is tradition, the Celtics and Bucks get a breather on Monday before reconvening at TD Garden for Game 2 on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Fair warning, there will then be three days off between Games 2 and 3, which feels insane. But the NBA always loves to spread out the TV schedule as much as it can.

    It’s going to be quite the week for game broadcasts on 98.5 The Sports Hub. The station will be carrying both the Celtics and Bruins throughout the week, with no scheduling conflicts. The B’s and Hurricanes kick off their Stanley Cup Playoff series Monday and play Game 2 on Wednesday, with Celtics-Bucks Game 2 sandwiched between. Then we have Bruins on Friday and Sunday, with the C’s and Bucks on Saturday.

    Click here for the full on-air schedule.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.