Terry Rozier

Paul Rutherford/USA Today Sports

Celtics 113, Bucks 107: Game 1 a buzzer-beating classic as Al Horford, Terry Rozier lead way

John Tomase
April 15, 2018 - 4:12 pm

The Celtics have already survived season-ending injuries to their best two starters and best two reserves.

So what's a buzzer-beating 36-footer?

The Celtics opened the playoffs against the Bucks on Sunday in a 2 vs. 7 battle that couldn't be judged by the seedings. Playing without Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, and Daniel Theis, the C's could hardly be considered favorites.

And yet, when Terry Rozier drilled a step-back 3-pointer with half a second remaining to break a 96-96 tie, the Celtics seemed to have victory secured.

Except Bucks forward Khris Middleton had other ideas, drilling the aforementioned 36-footer to beat the buzzer and force overtime.

But these are Celtics, and they don't die easily. They regrouped in overtime to ride their collective team past Milwaukee's two stars and escape with a 113-107 victory.

This one had a little bit of everything. They Celtics raced to a 12-point lead after one, and then saw Milwaukee open a double-digit lead of its own in the second quarter with a 24-4 run. The C's seemingly had the game in control in the fourth, only for the Bucks to play flawlessly down the stretch and force overtime with the exchange of 3-pointers.

But the Celtics featured too much depth, improbably. They had five players score 19 points, which countered the individual brilliance of Antetokounmpo and Middleton, who each topped 30 points.

The game fittingly wasn't clinched until Rozier skied for a defensive rebound in the final seconds and fouled out Antetokounmpo on what was initially ruled a jump ball.

The Celtics received contributions from the entire roster. Horford was fantastic, scoring 24 points on only eight shots, adding 12 rebounds and three blocks. Rookie Jayson Tatum made his playoff debut with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double. Rozier finished with 23 points and zero turnovers. Jaylen Brown scored 20. Marcus Morris delivered 21 points and seven rebounds.

Game 2 is Tuesday at the Garden.

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