Bucks bounce back, even series with their own blowout


MILWAUKEE - Mike Budenholzer spent the past couple days talking about how his Milwaukee Bucks wouldn’t be making any kind of adjustments other than playing harder. 

Then we saw Nikola Mirotic starting in place of Sterling Brown. 

That lineup change was the first visible sign that the Bucks who were smoked by Boston in Game 1 were a different team as Milwaukee evened the second-round series at one game apiece after pulling away for a 123-102 Game 2 win. 

The series shifts to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday, with Game 5 back in Milwaukee next Tuesday. 

Here are some of the standout performers in Game 2: 


Khris Middleton: Easily the best player on the floor for most of the game. The most telling stat about how good a night he was having? He had 12 shot attempts at the half, after having 12 shot attempts total in Game 1. Middleton would finish with 28 points - including 7-for-9 from 3. (The Bucks hit a franchise-record 20 3's). Twenty of Middleton's points came in the first half. 


Giannis Antetokounmpo: For most of the first half and the early start of the third quarter, it was Middleton carrying the day for the Bucks. But the Antetokounmpo delivered an MVP-worthy performance in the second half with a series of drives to the rim often resulting in baskets or trips to the free-throw line. He would finish with a double-double of 29 points and 10 rebounds.


Eric Bledsoe: After a rocky start with a pair of turnovers in the first few minutes, Bledsoe settled down and became one of the Bucks’ main contributors. He would finish with 21 points and five assists.


After a 3-pointer by Al Horford put the Celtics up 51-46 in the second quarter, the Bucks responded by closing out the half with a 13-4 run to lead, 59-55. Boston would spend the rest of the game playing from behind and another Milwaukee run of 28-2 starting in the third quarter really put it away.


Kyrie Irving: Not only did he spend most of the game missing one shot after another, but at no point did he show any desire to attack the rim which made defending him on an off-night shooting, a lot easier than it should have been for the Bucks. At the half, Irving had five points after having missed 10 of his 12 shots. Irving attacked the rim off the dribble more in the second half, and finished with nine points on 4-for-18 shooting in the loss. It was only the second time Irving has scored in single digits in a playoff game (six points, at Chicago on May 24, 2015).

Celtics bench: Boston’s rotation off the bench consists primarily of Aron Baynes, Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier, with all three struggling to make an impact in Game 2. Baynes had more problems than usual trying to limit or at least make shot attempts by Antetokounmpo at the rim difficult. Hayward had five points but missed four of his five shot attempts and had just one assist. Rozier (nine points, 2-for-10 shooting) had a rough night at both ends of the floor as well for Boston. 

Jayson Tatum: Another rough night shooting for Tatum. He finishing with five points on 2-for-10 shooting. It wasn’t an issue in Game 1 because he did such a good job defensively against Middleton. But with Middleton going off in Game 2, combined with his own personal struggles to make shots, is a recipe for disaster for the Celtics.

The series moves to Boston for Games 3 and 4 on Friday and Sunday. Game 5 will be back in Milwaukee next Tuesday. 

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