NBA pundits may have written off the Celtics with Kyrie Irving on the shelf, but the Celtics showed in their 113-107 OT victory over the Bucks Sunday at TD Garden that a lengthy playoff run in Boston may be in the cards.
Gutty performances by Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown proved to be the difference in the C’s Game 1 win. Tatum’s highlight reel reverse layup while fading away from the basketball put the Celtics up 108-105 with 1:22 left in the extra session, and the rookie also came up with a monster rebound and block in the final minutes of OT. Rozier’s rebound off a missed Giannis Antetokounmpo free throw sealed the game for Boston.
Rozier also came up with the Celtics’ signature play of the playoffs thus far as he made what initially looked like a game-winner in the final seconds of regulation. Rozier milked the clock for what initially looked like a little bit too long, but – clearly knowing what he was doing – he crossed up Milwaukee guard Eric Bledsoe with a gorgeous step-back and drained a 3-pointer with just a half second left on the clock.
Improbably, the Bucks’ Khris Middleton hit a 36-foot shot in response out of a time out - getting the ball out of his fingertips just before the horn sounded – to force overtime.
In OT, the Celtics outscored the Bucks, 14-8.
Al Horford led the way scoring-wise for the Celtics as he pumped in a team-high 24 points. The majority of those points came from the charity stripe as Horford hit 13-of-14 at the line. Rozier had 23 points, Brown totaled 21 and Tatum registered 19. Morris had 21 off the bench.
Horford also collected 12 rebounds and Tatum was also a beast on the boards with 10.
The Bucks’ were very much a two-man show on offense throughout the afternoon as Antetokounmpo had 35 and Middleton posted 31.
Game 2 of the series is Tuesday at the Garden (8 p.m., TNT).