In a monumental matchup between two Eastern Conference contenders, the Milwaukee Bucksoutlasted the Boston Celtics, 123-116.
The first half was a, in a word, slugfest. Both teams fought tooth and nail, and Milwaukee entered halftime down only one point. Then a huge third quarter (40-31) pushed the Bucks up by eight points, and a strangely friendly whistle in the early portion of the fourth quarter allowed Milwaukee to maintain a decent lead, and a late game quasi-comeback in the form of an 8-0 run within 2 minutes from Boston took things to the final margin.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was somewhat stymied in the first half, but ended up with 32 points, 18 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 blocks, and 2 steals. Khris Middleton had a somewhat muted game as well, with 20 points, 5 assists, 4 boards, and 3 steals. Pat Connaughton helped carry the team off the bench, adding 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals. George Hill was an even bigger boost, contributing 21 points. Nikola Mirotic (13 points, 3/7 from deep) enjoyed his second game as a member of the starting lineup after Sterling Brown was moved back to the reserves.
Eric Bledsoe drew Bucks’ fans ire with a number of forced plays and suboptimal shots in the first half, putting up 9 points, 4 assists, and 4 turnovers. He was too often out of position and felt out of sorts, leading to heavier-than-usual George Hill minutes. To his credit, though, Bledsoe had a strong showing in the fourth quarter that helped preserve the lead when Milwaukee needed it. Brook Lopez also continued to struggle (7 points, 6 boards, 2 blocks), as he was unable to find many of the looks he has found been all year.
For Boston, Kyrie Irving returned to his customary excellence, putting up 29 points, 6 assists, and 3 steals. Marcus Morris (16 points, 8 rebounds, 2 blocks), Jayson Tatum (20 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals) and Jaylen Brown (18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, but 6 fouls) also pitched in, and Brown included an absolutely filthy dunk on Giannis in the third quarter.