Game 1 of Bucks-Celtics was choppy and hectic and low-scoring, but man was it tense, and the last 10 minutes or so were breathless, hilarious fun. Let’s just sit here and enjoy some highlights for a few minutes, yeah?
Milwaukee took a three-point lead into halftime, but the Celtics grabbed control in the second half behind outstanding play from Al Horford and tremendous team defense. Boston’s lead grew as large as nine points in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks surged late and clawed back into the game. With the Celtics up three and less than a minute left on the clock, Eric Bledsoe—who for the most part was pretty bad in this one—executed just about the slowest walk-the-dog sequence you will ever see in an NBA game:
Horford followed that with a pair of free throws to extend the Celtics lead back to three. Giannis answered with a dunk, but with just over 24 seconds left on the clock, putting the Bucks in position where even a stop might not leave them with enough time for a game-winning possession. Horford sank another pair of clutch free throws, and the Bucks got the ball back with just 15 seconds left on the clock. Things were looking bad for the Bucks. Until!
Malcolm Brogdon! Huge bucket! Tie game!
The Celtics responded by putting the ball into the hands of Terry Rozier, isolated up top against Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe struggled in this one—he finished 3-of-12 from the floor with five turnovers, and eventually fouled out on a reckless play—but he’s a good defender and the right guy on the Bucks to be guarding a sturdy, quick guard like Rozier. And Rozier made him look like a damn Jello mould:
That is an incredible and incredibly gutsy move! Look at Bledsoe’s wobbly legs—that is total devastation. Celtics win! Celtics win! Right? Wrong!
Khris Middleton, from the next county! The improbable-as-hell make was upheld on review, and the game went to overtime. Overtime was somewhat less thrilling: Giannis threw down a couple early dunks, but the Celtics just kept coming, and eventually both Bledsoe and Giannis fouled out chasing missed free throws from Antetokounmpo. The Bucks had a wired, frantic, panicky look all night long, and they seemed to come unglued in the final moments of this one. The Celtics, hobbled though they are by injuries, were cooler and tougher and more organized down the stretch, and got huge, huge plays from role players like Rozier and Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum, around Horford’s two-way brilliance.
Man, I can’t wait for Game 2, Tuesday night. Boston was the team everyone in the East wanted in the opening round. The Bucks had to feel good coming into Sunday, and they’ve gotta feel like hammered shit now that it’s over.