Why Celtics' blowout loss to Bucks is actually cause for optimism

Alex Reimer
May 01, 2019 - 10:39 am
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It look less than two minutes for the Celtics to unravel against the Bucks Tuesday, allowing Glenn Ordway to take a prolonged victory lap. Though Kyrie Irving shot like Markelle Fultz for the bulk of the contest, the Celtics were only down 74-71 with 7:06 remaining in the third quarter. 

Then Boston didn’t score for nearly the next five minutes, not draining another hoop until Aron Baynes hit a tip-in layup with 2:45 remaining in the period. The Celtics turned the ball over three times during this span as well.

The Bucks evened up the series in Game 2 with a convincing 123-102 win. Giannis Antetokounmpo dropped 29 points, including two three-point daggers in the third, and seemingly drove to the hoop at will. Guards Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe combined for 49 points, a big improvement from the nine points Milwaukee received from its starting guards in Game 1.

So the Bucks played their best game, and the Celtics were still within just three points midway through the third, despite shooting 39.5 percent from the field. That gives reason for optimism heading into Game 3, which will be played at the TD Garden. 

Irving went 4-for-18 from the field Tuesday, and that kind of porous output almost certainly won’t happen on the Celtics’ home parquet. It’s not hyperbolic to say Irving, who owns the highest postseason winning percentage in NBA playoff history, is one of the league’s best big-game performers in recent memory. It’s fair to expect he’ll come back with a dominant performance, much like Giannis did in Game 2. 

Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier combined to go 14-55 from the field Tuesday. In a one-minute span in the third, Irving, Brown and Hayward all bricked open looks from beyond the arc. It was a putrid performance all around. 

After the game, Irving told reporters he’s confident the C’s will bounce back Friday. His regular season flip-slipping prognostication turned out to be accurate, so why doubt him now?

Related: Kyrie Irving, Celtics confident they'll bounce back in Game 3