MILWAUKEE — No other Celtics players have more playoff experience than Al Horford and Kyrie Irving.
One player is a one-time champion with three trips to the NBA Finals in his pedigree, the other has over 110 postseason games under his belt and both Irving and Horford led their team in a 112-90 Game 1 win over the Bucks, respectively, by dominating both ends of the floor. Irving’s 26 points on 12-of-21 attempts sealed the double-digit win in the second half while Horford’s double-double (20 points, 11 rebounds) along with four blocked shots, set a precedent against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
Irving, who meticulously decided when to distribute and when to take matters into his own hands, offensively, put together a stellar performance in the opening game of the Celtics’ Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup in Milwaukee.
AL HORFORD ON THE CELTICS’ DEFENSE ON ANTETOKOUNMPO:
“I just think that our group, we all understood how we needed to defend and how dangerous he is once he gets it in the paint,” Horford said. “So constantly tonight, we had a couple of breakdowns, but for the most part, I feel like everyone was very aware. Our guards really did a good job of helping and closing down lanes and things like that, and we just wanted to challenge and contest every shot as best we could.”
KYRIE IRVING ON PICKING HIS SPOTS OFFENSIVELY:
“I just play the game as it comes,” Irving said. “When I’m out there, if I try to put too much of an emphasis on thinking too much, trying to be aggressive, trying to do too much as a facilitator, it’ll take me out of my game. I just wanted to come out aggressive, establish myself in the post, establish myself around the mid-range area then after that I knew that the adjustments they were going to make was going to dictate the rest of the pace of the game.
“Second and third quarter, I really don’t worry about shots. I can get my shots anytime I want. Everybody in the building knows that but aside from that, the evolution of my game has come from just being able to pace the game very well and manage it, and then establish these guys throughout the game because they’re special as well. I’m even more special when they’re making shots and they’re doing what they do, so I try to just go out there and ease into it.”