BOSTON — When Jaylen Brown plays like he did Tuesday night, the Bucks have no chance against the Celtics. And when the Celtics take care of the ball like they did in Game 2, there’s no stopping Boston – at least in this series.
The second-year forward poured a playoff-career high 30 points and sparked a high-energy effort with a one-handed tomahawk jam while Terry Rozier added 23 to lead the Celtics over the Bucks, 120-106, Tuesday night in Game 2 at TD Garden. The Celtics lead the best-of-7 series 2-0.
Marcus Morris again came off the bench and helped lead a reserve effort that put the game away early in the fourth quarter. Morris finished with 18 points on three 3-pointers, while Shane Larkin played big minutes and finished with 11 points. Click here for a full box score.
The key to Boston’s high-efficiency, high-octane offense was ball handling, as they committed just six turnovers leading to just six Milwaukee points.
Game 3 is set for Friday night in Milwaukee at 9:30 p.m. while Game 4 will be 1 p.m. on Sunday, again at BMO Harris Bradley Center.
Feeding off a crowd that was much louder at the start than Sunday, the Celtics matched that energy in the opening minutes.
The two biggest highlights of the first quarter came on dunks, as Jaylen Brown rocked a one-handed jam with his left hand while Al Horford finished a break with a run down the middle of the paint and a monster dunk, sending the crowd into pandemonium.
Brown to the RACK! pic.twitter.com/XfhjpZ1CjK
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 18, 2018
The Celtics exposed Milwaukee obvious lack of depth in the backcourt, forcing seven Bucks turnovers in the first quarter, three of which came from Malcolm Brogdon off the bench.
Extending a trend from Game 1, the Celtics dominated the paint in the early going, outscoring Milwaukee 20-14 and 12-2 on second-chance points. They led 33-22 after the first quarter.
Not surprisingly, it was a one-man show from the Bucks as Giannis Antetopounmpo scored 10 of Milwaukee’s 22 points in the opening quarter, making all four shots he attempted.
The second quarter started with the anticipated run by Milwaukee. After Greg Monroe’s dunk gave the Celtics their biggest lead of the first half at 35-22 with 10:42 left in the second quarter, the Bucks woke up. Milwaukee scored the next 13 points thanks to Shabazz Muhammad. He had two dunks, a steal and a three that tied the game, 35-35, with 8:27 left in the first half.
But the Celtics scored the next seven points to reassert control of the game, eventually taking a 60-51 lead at the half. The Bucks were just 3-for-8 from the free throw line in the first two quarters.
The second half began inauspiciously for Antetopounmpo and the Bucks. He went to the free throw line and missed his first in the first minute and then, as the crowd counted up to “11” signaling one more second than allowed to shoot free throws, he air-balled the second. The Bucks made one run at the Celtics, getting to within six at 68-62. But the Celtics easily pulled away as Jaylen Brown drained a three in which he dribbled once on a pass from Terry Rozier, measured it from the left corner and let it fly. The three put Boston up, 78-64. Shane Larkin capped the third with a pull-up three at the buzzer and the Celtics took a 90-75 lead into the fourth.
Al Horford grabs the loose ball and takes it all the way for the slam! pic.twitter.com/Gu71OysPEH
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) April 18, 2018
The Celtics built the lead to 20, 103-83, on a Larkin layup with 7:22 left in the fourth. The Bucks would manage one more run. Antetokounmpo’s two free throws with 5:04 left cut the lead to 12, 105-93. A Sterling Brown mid-range jumper made it 10 but Morris came back with a free-throw line jumper to extend the game back to 12, 107-95. Antetopounmpo had a chance to cut the lead to single digits but missed a free throw on the back end of a three-point play. Morris came back and hit a fadeaway. Milwaukee missed on their next possession and Rozier drained a three with 3:31 left and it was 112-97.
There was considerably more buzz in the building Tuesday as the video board showed Patriots owner Robert Kraft, along with players Julian Edelman, James White and Elandon Roberts, with Edelman receiving the biggest ovation during a second quarter timeout. Also on hand as “Fan of the Game” was Desiree Linden, honored at midcourt in the first quarter for becoming the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years on Monday. Members of the U.S. Women’s Olympic hockey Gold Medal-winning team were also honored in the first half.
Before the game, there was a moment of silence for slain Yarmouth police office Sean Gannon.