By: Jeffrey Newholm
Behind 26 points apiece from Terry Rozier and Al Horford the Celtics soundly defeated the Bucks 112-96 Saturday night to advance to the second round. Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 32 points and willed his team to success in the fourth quarter. However Boston expertly played keep-away and hit more than enough threes in the second half to secure the victory. The Celtics will play Philadelphia in Boston Monday night while the Bucks go to a new coach’s drawing board.
In a game seven, the importance of every play is magnified. Shots don’t just slither through the bucket, they do so with a BOOM. Players are tighter. Fans are louder. And the Celtics refused to blink. They calmly dominated the paint and dictated pace, allowing 0 Bucks fast breaks. Boston shot terrible from three in the first half, which kept the game close early in the third. But a surge to build the lead to 16, and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s fifth foul, effectively closed the series.
A popular talking point is that a series isn’t a series until a road team wins. If true, this means Bucks-Celtics was never a series. Despite several injuries the Celtics were rewarded for winning 55 regular season games, while the Bucks were not for clearly losing the finale on purpose to fall to seven. Boston proved they are a determined franchise despite their shortcomings and will entertain thousands in a tight series against the Sixers. The Bucks, by contrast, lose for the eighth try in a row in the first round. The new coach must find a better player mixture, considering the bench only scored 12 points Saturday. And for a team always marketing the future, in 2019 it will again be something purely abstract.