Despite Kemba Walker’s 40 points, the Boston Celtics couldn’t comeback from a 27 point deficit, falling to the Milwaukee Bucks by a score of 128-123. The team showed heart in fighting back from an awful start, yet struggled to get within striking distance of the best team in the East.
Things looked very bleak for the Boston Celtics on Thursday night, being down by as many as 24 points before they turned it around and lost by just five.
Even though the Celtics lost the game, they showed fans that this team has gusto, and will fight back from any deficit. The leader of this comeback, Kemba Walker, scored 40 points on 14/23 from the field to go along with 11 (!) rebounds. He made shot after shot, including scoring 24 points in the second quarter alone, keeping Boston in the game.
Marcus Smart also had an outstanding offensive game, scoring 24 points while draining 5 threes. The combination of Smart and Walker carried the offense load for the Boston Celtics, while they lacked offensive production from others.
In perhaps his best game of the season, Daniel Theis stepped up in his 23 minutes of action, scoring 12 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He did all of this while stuffing Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim, and sealing off defenders to allow Celtics drivers to get easy buckets from close range. If you watch Theis in the offense, he’s one of the best players in the league at allowing his ball handler to get an easy path to the rim.
Jayson Tatum played a game-high 40 minutes, going 8/20 from the field for 17 points. He was decently efficient, and showed up later on in the game, but it would’ve been nice to see him attack the basket a little more, as he only had two free throws in the game.
The majority of the blame is being assigned to Gordon Hayward, who shot 1/10 from the field for only 7 points. Yes, he had a bad game, there’s no denying that. But to say he’s been bad all year is flat out wrong. He is overpaid for his contract, but he’s still a good player. Coming into this game, Hayward had scored 18 or more points in 11 of his 23 games.
It’s true that Hayward has been inconsistent ever since coming back from his hand fracture, but he’s still been good more times than not. Suggesting a trade for him would only make the Celtics worse.
Off the bench, Semi Ojeleye played 20 minutes, mainly to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo. He remains the Celtics’ best matchup on him, repeatedly stopping him in his tracks, not allowing him to get to the basket. He only scored 6 points, but in this particular matchup, he should be on the floor defending Giannis as much as possible.
Besides that, the Celtics struggled for production from Grant Williams, Enes Kanter, Brad Wanamaker, and Javonte Green. Kanter had a fine game offensively for only 16 minutes, but it’s tough for him to play against the high-powered offense that is the Milwaukee Bucks.
For the Bucks, their bench outscored the Boston Celtics bench 48-23, much due to Donte DiVincenzo‘s 19 points, a career high. Him and George Hill combined for 32 points while going 7/9 from downtown. The Bucks started red hot, going 12/14 from long range, and ended up shooting 51.6% from beyond the arc. Due to the Celtics finding themselves in an extreme deficit, they shot a whopping 49 threes, yet only connected on 30.6% of them.
One of the best players in the league, Giannis Antetokounmpo, racked up 32 points, 17 rebounds, and 7 assists, while shooting 11/22 from the field and 10/20 from the line. Even though he had 32 points, the Celtics did a decent job on him defensively, at least when Semi Ojeleye was on the court.
During the Celtics comeback, they slowed down the Greek Freak, often stripping him while he was driving to the lane, or daring him to shoot threes, as he went 0/5 from distance.
Finally, the Celtics killer, Khris Middleton, was back at it again, scoring 23 points on 8/13 shooting to go along with 6 boards and 4 assists. It’s getting to a point where every shot he puts up, Celtics fans assume is going in. Going back to the 2018 playoffs, Middleton has haunted the Celtics, hitting every contested shot imaginable.
Obviously, for the C’s to get back to their winning ways, they’re going to have to start off games on the right foot. Recently, they have been sluggish out of the gate, making themselves play from behind from the start.
This game, the deficit was too much. But even though the Boston Celtics are going through a rough stretch of games, losing to sub .500 teams, they showed that they still have the fight of a successful team, almost pulling off a historic comeback against perhaps the best team in the league.