Milwaukee — Jason Tatum scored 40 points and Jaylen Brown added 30 as the Boston Celtics edged the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks 140-99 Thursday night.
The Celtics (53-24) finished 22 of 43 from 3-point range and moved within two games of the Bucks (55-22) in the Eastern Conference standings. The Celtics won the season series with the Bucks 2-1, giving Boston the tiebreaker if the two teams finish with the same record.
Boston’s performance in those three games with Milwaukee should give the Celtics plenty of confidence that they can take down the Bucks again if they meet in the postseason. The Celtics beat the Bucks in seven games in the Eastern Semifinals last season.
The Celtics beat the Bucks 139-118 in Boston on Christmas Day And Lost 131-125 in overtime on February 14. The Celtics did not play Brown, Tatum, Marcus Smart or Al Horford in the overtime loss.
Milwaukee took a hit on the ground as well as in the standings. Bucks forward Chris Middleton left the game midway through the third quarter after taking an elbow to the face from the Browns. The play led to a foul on Brown charging and caused Middleton to get stitches on his upper lip.
Boston built a 114-74 lead over three periods, causing the most starters for both teams in the entire fourth quarter.
Giannis Antitekounmo led the Bucks with 24 points.
This matched the Bucks’ most mixed loss of the season. They fell 142-101 in Memphis on December 15th.
Bucks were playing one night after 149-136 victory in Indiana They scored a season-high 62.4% from the floor with Jrue Holiday scoring 51 points and Antetokounmpo with 38 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. It was the first time that an NBA team had one player score at least 50 points and the other had a triple-double with at least 35 points in the same game.
Milwaukee found going on Thursday a little more difficult.
Antetokounmpo shot 11 of just 27, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range. Vacation started his night with a three-pointer sinker, but went 1-of-7 the rest of the way and finished with just 6 points.
After the first eight and a half minutes of the game, which featured nine lead changes and five tackles, the Celtics seized control by going 29-9 over the last seven minutes. Boston capped that surge by scoring 13 straight points.
Boston didn’t give up the rest of the night.
Milwaukee’s Thanassis Antetokounmpo was sacked with 1:25 remaining for butting Boston’s Blake Griffin. The head-butting came after Griffin fouled Antetokounmo.
Celtics: Boston edged Milwaukee 41-21 in the second half, tying their highest point total in the second quarter of the season. … Payton Pritchard did not play due to left heel pain.
Bucks: Middleton and Joe Engels are back in action after taking the Bucks’ win in Indiana. Since both Middleton and Engels returned from knee injuries earlier this season, the Bucks have generally avoided playing them on back-to-back nights. … Myers Leonard missed the seventh straight game with a left calf injury.
Celtics: Hosts the Utah Jazz on Friday. In their only previous match this season, The Celtics lost 118-117 in Utah On March 18th.
Bucks: Hosts the Philadelphia 76ers on Sunday. The Buckeyes are 1-2 against the 76ers this season, Including the loss of 133-130 homes On March 4, he snapped Milwaukee’s 16-game winning streak. ——
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