Boston Celtics

Celtics-Bucks takeaways: Pritchard shines, C's survive scary fourth quarter

Payton Pritchard's hustle and hot shooting propelled Boston to a nail-biter win.

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Three Key Storylines

  • Payton Pritchard brings the energy
  • Jayson Tatum starts and finishes strong
  • Another scary fourth quarter vs. MIL

The Boston Celtics held off a late run by the Giannis Anteteokounmpo-less Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at TD Garden to secure their seventh straight victory.

Anteteokounmpo sat out the potential postseason preview due to a hamstring injury. Boston also was short-handed without Jrue Holiday (shoulder) and Sam Hauser (ankle).

The Celtics led virtually the entire game but watched their 21-point lead shrink to two during a sluggish fourth quarter. It was an ugly finish to an otherwise strong performance as they took down their Eastern Conference rival for the second time this season, 122-119.

This marked Boston's 27th consecutive regular-season win at the Garden against East teams, dating back to March 24 of last year. The C's have a 10-0 record at home since Feb. 4.

Jayson Tatum scored a team-high 31 points for the C's, including 23 in the first half. Derrick White and Jaylen Brown added 23 and 21, respectively.

Damian Lillard had a game-high 32 points while Bobby Portis contributed 24 off the bench for the Bucks. Khris Middleton added 22.

The Celtics (55-14) will begin a six-game road trip Friday night against the Detroit Pistons (12-56). First, here are three takeaways from Wednesday's matchup.

Payton Pritchard brings the energy

You won't like Payton Pritchard when he's angry. The Bucks learned that lesson the hard way on Wednesday night.

Milwaukee guard Patrick Beverley taunted Celtics big man Luke Kornet with a "too small" gesture early in the game. The backup Celtics guard let his play do the talking as he scored or assisted on 15 straight Boston points following Beverley's trash-talk.

Pritchard scored 13 points in the first half, but winning an offensive rebound over Brook Lopez and drawing a foul on the Bucks big man may have been his most memorable highlight of the night:

You can watch all of Pritchard's first-half buckets below:

Pritchard's energy remained a factor in the second half. He re-entered the game with just under five minutes left in the third quarter and immediately drained a 3-pointer. Later, he made another hustle play, picking off an entry pass while drawing a foul on Bobby Portis.

After the game, Pritchard admitted Beverley's "too small" gesture got him fired up.

Pritchard ended up with 19 points on 7-of-11 shooting (5-8 3-PT), six rebounds, and three assists in 31 minutes off the bench. After he racked up 14 points and 13 assists in 35 minutes vs. Washington, then 23 points and seven assists vs. Detroit, this was another example of the Oregon product taking advantage of his increased opportunity.

Jayson Tatum starts and finishes strong

Another night, another fast start for Tatum.

The Celtics superstar tallied 10 first-quarter points -- all in the first five minutes -- after notching 15 vs. Utah, 14 vs. Phoenix, and 18 vs. Washington. He stayed hot in the second frame, finishing the half with 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting (4-5 3-PT).

In case it wasn't already clear that he was feeling it, Tatum blew his signature "kiss of death" not even halfway into the second quarter:

Tatum was uncharacteristically quiet throughout the third quarter and the start of the fourth. His scoring drought lasted until the game was on the line.

With the rest of the team struggling to make buckets, the five-time All-Star scored eight points in the final two minutes to lift Boston to victory.

Tatum finished with 31 points (9-19 FG, 4-7 3-PT), eight rebounds, four assists, three steals, and a block. The 26-year-old has regained his MVP form as of late with at least 30 points scored in three of his last four games.

Another scary fourth quarter vs. Bucks

While the final score doesn't show it, the Celtics were in control for most of this game. But just like their first matchup against Milwaukee back in November, it all started to unravel in the fourth quarter.

In that November meeting, the C's held a 17-point lead with 5:40 remaining and won by three. Wednesday's matchup was eerily similar. Boston led by 21 early in the fourth quarter, watched Milwaukee cut the deficit to two, and again won by only three.

The Celtics went four minutes in the final frame without a bucket. Fortunately, they managed to avoid a late-game collapse similar to their March 5 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, when they were outscored 34-17 in the fourth in a one-point loss.

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