Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks tied up their semifinals series against the Boston Celtics 1-1 with a 102-123 victory in Game 2. Kyrie Irving and Al Horford exposed some of the Bucks’ weaknesses in Game 1, but on Tuesday night the Eastern Conference top seed turned the tables on their toughest challengers yet.
Eric Bledsoe, who was a veritable non-factor in Game 1, woke up in this one to drop 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting with three rebounds, five assists and three 3-pointers. Khris Middleton caught fire from long-range and rained down seven triples on the Celtics en route to his 28 points on the night. Of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo was active all over the court with 29 points, 10 rebounds and a full stat line. When the Bucks’ big three weapons are scoring more than 20 points in a game, they’re very hard to stop.
On the flipside, Kyrie Irving struggled with his shot tonight and was limited to scoring just nine points on 4-of-18 shooting from the field in 31 minutes of action. Jason Tatum fared no better, making just 2-of-10 shots to finish with five points and five rebounds. Marcu Morris and Jaylen Brown helped pick up the slack for their struggling teammates, chipping in 17 and 16 points, respectively.
The Bucks were deadly in the regular season with the NBA’s best defensive rating and tonight they put it to good use in stifling Irving. Shutting him down will be key if the Bucks hope to advance to the Eastern Conference finals.
In the other game on Tuesday, the Golden State Warriors improved to 2-0 over the Houston Rockets with a 109-115 win at home. The game was injury-filled as Stephen Curry suffered a dislocated finger in the first quarter. Houston’s James Harden also went to the locker room after suffering a laceration to his eyelid. Thankfully, both All-Stars were eventually able to return to the court for their respective teams.
Despite his eye injury, Harden still managed to score a team-high 29 points on 9-of-19 shooting with seven rebounds, four assists and three 3-pointers. Curry made just 3-of-13 shots from downtown to finish the night with 20 points, five assists and two steals.
Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson took care of the heavy lifting for the Warriors with 29 and 21 points, respectively. Veteran role-players Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala made their presence felt in this game as the reigning NBA champions counted on both of them to do so many things that don’t pop up on the stat sheets. Green had a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double while Iguodala had 16 points and a full line in 32 minutes of action.
The Rockets will look to get their first win of the series as they head to Houston on Saturday for Game 3.