Celtics frustrate Bucks – and need to again

Winning a game they had to win proved that the Celtics are not the sort of club that will surrender under the weight of urgency.

Their chances of winning this series with Milwaukee would have existed, in the mathematical sense, even if they’d lost Game 2. Common basketball sense dictated that a team that loses the first two games of a series at home needs to quickly put its fans out of their misery.

And so, the Celtics lifted New England’s spirits, if not their own. The Celtics broke out of the gate to an 18-3 lead. They kept hammering away and led 65-40 at the half.

Jaylen Brown, often overlooked, branded his stamp on Game 2 with 25 points in the first half.

So why did an unnerving moment or two arise in the second half?

The lead dropped to 94-82 with 4:30 left. These Celtics have shown an ability to fritter away such leads.

Milwaukee plays great defense. And it pretty much clogged all lanes for driving to the basket.

So the C’s did what they always do when left with no easy options – they gathered around the arc and took the first open (or, in many cases, sort-of open) 3-pointer.

And by halftime, the lead stood at 65-40.

For the game, the Celtics chucked up 43 3’s and hit 20, a good, bordering on outstanding, percentage.

Maintaining a 47 percentage from the 3-point arc over the course of a seven-game series is plausible. Still, it might behoove the Celtics to find a way to get into and score in the paint.

Their major accomplishment was minimizing Giannis Antetokounmpo’s impact on the game, at least as much as anyone can limit his impact. They defended with shoves, jabs, and yanks, which clearly annoys him.

He hit just five of nine foul shots in scoring 28 points, At the half, the Celtics having built all the lead they needed, were a bit more willing to let him breathe just a bit.

Speaking of Antetokounmpo, he is going to get full benefit of officials’ doubts as to whether he has been fouled. That hardly makes him unique among NBA stars.

There are times when a heavy sigh lands on his broad shoulders and a whistle blows – usually by the ref stationed near halfcourt with nothing better to do.

Don’t complain. It will get you nowhere.

Generally speaking, if there is one thing the Celtics need not do as the games shift to Milwaukee is whine to the refs. They surely grasp the reality that their league is cursed with a collection of mostly incompetent officials.

Some of them are boldly incompetent and will not hesitate to punish you, via poor calls or technical fouls.

Go out there this weekend, keep playing smothering defense, keep pestering Antetokounmpo, pick off a win, and regain homecourt advantage.

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