Giannis Antetokounmpo’s triple-double of 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 12 assists lifted the defending champion, Milwaukee Bucks. To a 101-89 win over the Boston Celtics in the NBA playoff series opener Sunday.
The Greek superstar and his teammates dominated the NBA’s most outstanding defensive team to open the second round best-of-seven series, which continues Tuesday in Boston.
The second round of the Western Conference plans to begin later Sunday with the Golden State Warriors visiting Memphis.
When Giannis Antetokounmpo was on the court, he scored or assisted on 55 of Milwaukee’s 87 points.
“I simply enjoy being violent,” he explained. “I wish to be assertive. My teammates encourage me to be assertive. I’m attempting to go into the paint for my teammates and myself.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo committed three turnovers in five minutes.
Boston defended the Greek big with several defenders. However, Giannis Antetokounmpo could carry the Bucks from there. Despite the absence of forwarding Khris Middleton due to an injured left knee ligament.
Jrue Holiday led Milwaukee with 25 points and ten rebounds. While Bobby Portis added 15 points and 11 boards as the Bucks maintained their intensity and physicality.
“We have to overcome them,” Giannis Antetokounmpo stated. “We have to be here tonight and guard them as hard as possible, make it as difficult as possible, force them to play one-on-one, rebound the ball, and go the other way.”
The Celtics shot a dismal 28-of-84 (33.3 percent) from the field and made just ten points inside the 3-point arc despite trying a playoff-record of 50 3-pointers.
“It’s satisfying to put this dud behind us,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka remarked. “Offensively, this has not been our best night. We saw what they were attempting to accomplish in speeding us up, and a good deal of it worked.”
Udoka was livid that the Bucks scored 27 points off 18 Celtics mistakes and lamented Boston’s “alarming” inability to achieve inside.
“We opted for some more difficult 3-point attempts,” he explained. “
That is their objective, to guard the paint and force you to shoot 3-pointers, and for the most part, I believe our decision-making was lacking.”
The NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year, Marcus Smart, suffered a right shoulder injury and bruised thigh in the second quarter and labored in the second half as Milwaukee sealed the victory.
The Bucks complete the first quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 27-24 lead and the second quarter on an 11-3 surge to take a 56-46 lead into halftime. Antetokounmpo scored eight points in the final two minutes of the first half.
Giannis Antetokounmpo finished the first half with 14 points, eight rebounds, also seven assists as Boston battled to keep up with the visitors.
The Celtics were led by Jayson Tatum’s 21 points, while Jaylen Brown and Al Horford contributed 12 points, and Horford grabbed ten rebounds. Smart scored ten points and dished out six assists.