The top seeds were back in action Tuesday night, but Milwaukee and Golden State faced different challenges. While the reigning champions were looking to extend their lead on Houston, the Bucks needed to bounce back after getting blown out by the Celtics in Game 1 of their series. Mike Budenholzer’s team rose to the challenge, grabbing control of the game in the third quarter and winning by a comfortable margin. Golden State now has a 2-0 lead on Houston, thanks in large part to its “Hamptons 5” lineup and dominance on the offensive glass.
Both teams watched star players go down with injuries during the first quarter, as Stephen Curry (finger) and James Harden (eyes) had to take a trip to the locker room for medical attention. Both managed to return to action during the first half. Below is a look at Tuesday’s action, followed by a quick injury note from Wednesday’s Game 2 between Portland and Denver.
Bucks 123, Celtics 102
In Sunday’s Game 1 loss to Boston, Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe, Brook Lopez and Sterling Brown combined to shoot 3-of-17 from the field, scoring just 12 points. Mike Budenholzer changed his starting five ahead of Game 2, replacing Brown with the more offensively inclined Nikola Mirotic. While Mirotic shot 3-of-10 from the field, finishing with nine points, nine rebounds, three steals, two assists, one block and one three-pointer, his presence helped the Bucks in the spacing department. The Bucks didn’t grab control of the game until the third quarter, when the team went on a 24-2 run and outscored Boston 39-18 in the period. As a result the series is now tied at 1-all as the scene shifts to Boston for Friday’s Game 3.
Three Bucks starters scored at least 21 points, with Giannis Antetokounmpo leading all scorers with 29 points. Shooting 7-of-16 from the field and 13-of-18 from the foul line, Antetokounmpo also accounted for ten rebounds, four assists, two steals, one blocked shot and two 3-pointers in 31 minutes played. He and the other Bucks starters were able to get some rest in the fourth quarter, as Milwaukee led by as much as 30. Khris Middleton established a postseason career-high with his seven 3-pointers (on ten attempts), finishing with 28 points (10-of-18 FGs, 1-of-1 FTs), seven rebounds and one assist. The third player to score at least 21 points was Bledsoe, who shot 7-of-12 from the field and finished with 12 points, five assists, three rebounds, two blocks and three 3-pointers.
Brook Lopez shot 3-of-8 from beyond the arc, scoring ten points with four rebounds and one assist in 24 minutes played. Only three Bucks played 30 minutes or more Tuesday night: Middleton (33 minutes), Antetokounmpo (31) and Pat Connaughton (30), who checked into the game to replace Mirotic just 3:17 into the first quarter. Connaughton grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds while also accounting for five points, three assists and one three-pointer. George Hill has a solid night as well, scoring ten points (3-of-6 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs) with one rebound, one assist and two 3-pointers in 25 minutes. Ersan Ilyasova contributed four points, four rebounds, two assists and one steal in 18 minutes.
Mirotic played 25 minutes, and he finished with an individual net rating of plus-54.9. By comparison his net rating in Game 1 was minus-15.7, slightly lower than his number in the three regular season meetings between the two teams (minus-15.3). Brown played 13 minutes off the bench, with Mirotic and Connaughton absorbing some of the minutes he played in a starting role Sunday, missing all three of his three-point attempts and finishing with two rebounds and one assist to his credit.
On the other side Boston struggled to knock down shots after shooting 54.0% from the field Sunday. Kyrie Irving had the toughest night, as he shot 4-of-18 and scored nine points with five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer. That’s a far cry from his 12-of-21 effort in Game 1, as he accounted for 26 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds in Boston’s 22-point victory.
The Celtics had three double-digit scorers on the night, with Marcus Morris scoring 17 points, Jaylen Brown 16 and Al Horford 15. Morris, whose insertion into the starting lineup was a factor in Boston effectively defending Milwaukee in Game 1, shot 6-of-8 from the field and also tallied seven rebounds, one assist, one steal and three 3-pointers (on four attempts) in 25 minutes played. Brown shot 5-of-12 from the field and 6-of-7 from the foul line, and he added six rebounds and three assists to his stat line in a team-high 33 minutes played. As for Horford, he shot 6-of-10 from the field overall and 3-of-5 from three to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.
Boston struggled to make shots, and its defense had nowhere near the impact on Milwaukee that it did in the series opener. The Bucks missed their fair share of quality looks Sunday, but that was also a game in which the Celtics blocked 11 shots (three each for Morris, Tatum and Horford). Tuesday night Boston blocked just three shots, with Irving being the lone starter to record one (Guerschon Yabusele and Aron Baynes also managed to block a shot). Baynes, who sprained his left ankle during the third quarter of Game 1, played ten minutes Tuesday and finished with four points, one rebound and the one block.
Terry Rozier was Boston’s high-scorer off the bench, finishing with nine points (2-of-10 FGs, 5-of-5 FTs), eight rebounds, two assists and one steal. Gordon Hayward, who posted a line of 13 points, four rebounds, five assists, one steal, one block and one three-pointer in Game 1, played 31 minutes and accounted for just five points (1-of-5 FGs, 2-of-2 FTs), three assists and one three-pointer.
Warriors 115, Rockets 109
The “Hamptons 5” once again started for the Warriors, with Kevin Durant (29 points), Klay Thompson (21) and Stephen Curry (20) all scoring at least 20 points as Golden State took a 2-0 lead in the series. Durant scored his 29 on 9-of-22 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from the foul line, and he supplemented his point total with five rebounds, four assists, two blocks, one steal and three 3-pointers in a game-high 44 minutes. Thompson, who shot 8-of-18 from the field and 2-of-2 from the charity stripe, added five rebounds, three steals, two assists and three 3-pointers.
Curry left the game during the first quarter after dislocating the middle finger on his left (non-shooting) hand, and he struggled with his shot for much of the night. Shooting 6-of-16 from the field, Curry made just three of his 13 three-point attempts. In his 33 minutes the All-Star guard also tallied five assists, three rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. All five Warriors starters scored in double figures, as Andre Iguodala posted a line of 16 points, five rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block and two 3-pointers, and Draymond Green added 15 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists and two steals.
The starting five was on the court together for 24 minutes Tuesday, and during that time the Warriors outscored Houston 73-61.
Iguodala and Green were huge from a rebounding standpoint, as they combined to grab nine of the Warriors’ 18 offensive rebounds on the night. Those second-chance opportunities add up, as Golden State finished the game with 14 more field goal attempts (91-77) and six more makes (42-36) than the visiting Rockets. Kevon Looney (16 minutes), Shaun Livingston (13) and Jonas Jerebko (ten) all reached double figures in minutes, with Livingston scoring six points and Looney was responsible for two points, four rebounds (three offensive), one steal and one blocked shot.
Jerebko, who played a total of 16 minutes in the first round and was a DNP-CD in Game 1, tallied four points and five rebounds in his ten minutes. Andrew Bogut played just two minutes Tuesday after getting five minutes of action in Game 1, and Alfonzo McKinnie accounted for two points and three rebounds in nine minutes.
Houston also had an injury to deal with during the first quarter, as Harden had to leave the game after taking an inadvertent shot to the face from Draymond Green. The reigning MVP, who said after the game that he could barely see, struggled with his vision after returning to action during the second quarter, finally knocking down a few shots just before halftime. Harden shot 9-of-19 from the field and 8-of-9 from the foul line, finishing with 29 points, seven rebounds, four assists, one steal, three 3-pointers and six turnovers. In the first two games of the series Harden is a combined 18-of-47 from the field and 7-of-23 from three, and he also has as many turnovers as assists (ten).
All five Rockets starters scored in double figures. Chris Paul accounted for 18 points (6-of-14 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs), seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and two 3-pointers, with Eric Gordon (15 points, one rebound and three 3-pointers), Clint Capela (14 points, ten rebounds, two assists and two blocks) and P.J. Tucker (13 points, ten rebounds, two assists, one steal and three 3-pointers) next in line. Also scoring in double figures was Austin Rivers, who after missing Game 1 due to a case of the flu shot 5-of-8 from the field and finished with 14 points, two assists, one rebound and four 3-pointers. Rivers played 24 minutes, one of two reserves to reach double digits with Gerald Green (six points, two 3-pointers in 11 minutes) being the other.
Nene, played just four minutes Tuesday after playing 14 in Game 1. Also seeing their minutes drop significantly were Danuel House Jr. and Iman Shumpert, who both played 21 minutes on Sunday. Both played five minutes, combining to shoot 0-of-6 from the field with Shumpert grabbing three rebounds. Also playing five minutes was Kenneth Faried, who did not play at all in Game 1. The Rockets are in search of answers when it comes to dealing with Golden State’s new lineup, and at this point in the series this looks to be a six-man rotation (the starters plus Rivers), with the seventh man being anyone’s guess.
Wednesday’s Schedule (all times Eastern)
Trail Blazers @ Nuggets, 9 PM (TNT)
The big news regarding the injury report for Game 2 of this series is the fact that Enes Kanter wasn’t on it. Kanter, who suffered a separated left shoulder during Game 5 of Portland’s first round series, was considered to be questionable for Monday’s Game 1. He was in the starting lineup, playing 33 minutes and tallying 26 points (11-of-14 FGs, 4-of-4 FTs) and seven rebounds. The only players on the injury report as of Tuesday night were Denver’s Michael Porter Jr. (back) and Portland’s Jusuf Nurkic (leg).