Celtics stymie Bucks in East series opener

MILWAUKEE — Kyrie Irving had 26 points and 11 assists, Al Horford added 20 points and 11 rebounds, and Boston cruised past the Bucks 112-90 on Sunday in the opener of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Celtics controlled the game for long stretches and played stingy defense against Giannis Antetokoumpo, an MVP candidate who scored 22 points but shot 7-for-21. Antetokounmpo didn’t make a field goal until the first minute of the second quarter.

“Our focus was to make sure that we just made it tough on him every time, just making sure he earned everything he got,” Horford said. “I felt like we did a pretty good job of that.”

“As great as he’s been, he hasn’t been perfect every night,” Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer said of Antetokounmpo.

Khris Middleton had 16 points for Milwaukee, which completed a four-game sweep of the Pistons last Monday and advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2001. The Celtics were coming off a sweep against Indiana.

Though Milwaukee is the top seed in the East and has home-court advantage throughout the postseason after posting the NBA’s best record, Boston didn’t play like an underdog in any way.

The Celtics used a 9-0 run in the third quarter to again build a double-digit lead, which grew to 21 as Milwaukee went cold from the field.

“It was one of the toughest losses we’ve ever had, all season, especially at home,” Antetokounmpo said.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Celtics-stymie-Bucks-in-East-series-opener-13802731.php.

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