Celtics beat Bucks as Jaylen Brown loses 30 points

BOSTON — There was a moment during the Celtics’ opening loss to the Bucks when it seemed like Jaylen Brown would never fire a shot.

At the start of Game 2 it felt like he wasn’t going to miss.

Brown scored 25 of his 30 first-half points, and Boston beat Milwaukee 109-86 on Tuesday night to even reach the Eastern Conference Semifinals at a game apiece.

“It’s the playoffs. That’s it,” Brown said. “We can’t let one game dictate the course of this series. We wanted to be aggressive from goal.”

Brown shrugged off a dismal night of shooting in Game 1 and went 9-for-10 in the first half, including 5-for-5 from the 3-point line. Jayson Tatum added 19 points and eight assists. Grant Williams finished with 21 points. Al Horford had 14 points and 11 rebounds.

“We wanted to come and play like our season was on the line and we did,” Brown said.

Celtics Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrate during the third quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden on May 3, 2022 in Boston.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown celebrate in the third quarter of Game 2 against the Bucks.
Getty Images

The streak doesn’t continue until Game 3 on Saturday in Milwaukee.

Boston finished 20 of 43 from beyond the arc and scored 24 points from 16 Milwaukee turnovers.

“We wanted to match their physicality tonight and fight back,” said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. “A big message was to show them who we are.”

They did.

The Celtics played without Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart after he was ruled out before the game due to a right thigh bruise he sustained in Game 1. Derrick White took his place on the starting lineup, starting in a playoff game for the first time since 2019 while he was with San Antonio.

Celtics Jaylen Brown dunks the ball during Game 2 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Milwaukee Bucks on May 3, 2022 at TD Garden in Boston.
Celtic’s Jaylen Brown dunks the ball in Game 2 against the Bucks.
NBAE via Getty Images

“The ship must move on. Everyone has to do a little more,” Tatum said.

Even without Smart, the Celtics got the better of Giannis Antetokounmpo after his triple-double in the series opener, limiting him to 28 points – mostly in the third quarter – nine rebounds and seven assists. Jrue Holiday added 19 points and seven assists. Bobby Portis had 13 points and eight rebounds.

Antetokounmpo said the Celtics do a lot to make it difficult for him indoors.

“Strong bodies, being active, being physical — that’s pretty much it,” he said. “It has become more difficult to find your teammates.”

With Smart watching from the bench in street clothes, the Celtics scored the first seven points of the game on their way to an 18-3 lead and forced a quick timeout by the Bucks.

Boston scored at various spots on the court during the run — both on the perimeter and inside the paint. It also included 12 points from the 3-point line, where the Celtics struggled for most of the first game.

“It’s not Wilt Chamberlain down there (in the paint),” Udoka said. “We can go downhill and attack.”

Antetokounmpo missed his first six shots before finally getting on the scoreboard with an opening dunk with less than a minute to go.

That didn’t stop Boston going into the second quarter at 32-21, bolstered by 17 points from Brown — a career playoff high for a quarter.

The Celtics continued to split, keeping Milwaukee’s defense in pursuit mode until they eventually went in the half at 65-40.

The Bucks extended the Celtics’ lead by 26 points in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo scored 18 points during that period. A 10-0 run in Milwaukee, aided by a Celtics drought for more than five minutes, cut Boston’s lead to 72-56 late in the third quarter.

Milwaukee continued to nibble, putting it at 94-82 with two free throws from Antetokounmpo. But Tatum made a 3-pointer and Boston pulled away again.

Marcus Smart’s status

Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Smart has experienced swelling, pain and limited movement for the past two days. However, he is expected to be ready in time for Game 3.

“I don’t think it’s long-term,” Udoka said. “With three days off, we assume he’s fine.” Celtics beat Bucks as Jaylen Brown loses 30 points


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