BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics held Giannis Antetokounmpo in check Sunday afternoon, cruising to a 22-point Game 1 victory over the Bucks in Milwaukee.
The Celtics, led by a defensive masterpiece by Al Horford, held Antetokounmpo to a pedestrian 22 points on 7-for-21 shooting. It was an extremely rare off day for the MVP candidate, and it trickled down the full Bucks roster, as Milwaukee shot just 35 percent for the game.
After that disappointing start to the series, one would surmise that the Bucks would make some changes for Tuesday night’s Game 2. Nothing too drastic, just a little tinkering to get their star player some more open lanes to drive or easier looks for his supporting cast. They did, after all, win 60 games in the regular season.
But that is not the case. The Bucks, and Giannis in particular, are sticking with what had been so successful until the Celtics came in and crashed their party Sunday afternoon. Asked if they’d be making any adjustments Tuesday night, Antetokounmpo scoffed at the notion.
“We’re just going to keep doing what we’ve been doing all year,” he said.
Wait, so no changes? At all?
“I think there should be no change at all,” Antetokounmpo continued. “Why should there be a change after a game that we lost? We should not be the team that makes the adjustment even though we lost the first game.
“We’re just going to come out and play our hardest, see how Game 2 goes. If it doesn’t go well for us, then you can think about adjusting,” he said. “But right now, we’re not adjusting nothing.”
It’s a somewhat bold strategy, considering the Celtics dominated their matchup with Giannis. The Celtics outscored the Bucks by 24 points when he was on the floor, and the only time Milwaukee looked like an actual one-seed was a 15-0 run in the second quarter — with Giannis on the bench. They should probably try to do something — anything — to get Horford away from Giannis when he has the ball in his hands.
At the same time, some of Milwaukee’s issues on Sunday are fixable without Mike Budenholzer going all Will Hunting on the whiteboard. Milwaukee missed several open looks throughout Sunday’s game, and hit just 15 of their 24 free throws. They lacked hustle throughout, losing the rebounding battle 51-44, and they even let the Celtics dominate the paint, losing the war down low, 38-26. Milwaukee dominated the paint throughout the regular season and their first-round sweep of the Detroit Pistons, so if they can get back to that on Tuesday, playing with a lot more effort than they did in Game 1, chances are they’ll have a different outcome.
But no adjustments? None whatsoever? That must be music to the Celtics’ ears ahead of Game 2.