In front of national television audiences on Christmas Day, Antetokunmpo scored precisely the numbers you’d expect from him – 36 points, 12 rebounds, and five assists – and the Milwaukee Bucks reunited in the final minutes to score 117 points. -113 to the Boston Celtics. “This is good,” Antetokunmpo said.
“I was thrilled to be back, very excited to be back with my teammates and fans, and very excited about the game.” Antetokunmpo started a slow start and scored seven points before half-time, Milwaukee following the Celtics impoverished by COVID 35-22. He brushed off any remaining rust with 17 points in the third. Then added 12 more after Boston came forward with 13 points five minutes to go.
“He’s a guy who loves his reps, the touch and the feel he gets,” said Bucks manager Mike Budenholzer. “It took him half a mile to get rid of the cobwebs, but he had a great second half, and I’m really impressed with him.”
With only eight players left at Boston since Dennis Schroeder was put on the sheet on Saturday. He controlled most of the game with Jaylen Brown, who scored 14 of his 25 points in the first quarter. Jason Tatum also scored 25 for Boston, beating Boston by a whopping 19. Milwaukee cut the deficit to one when Middleton scored 3 from 3:39 to end in third. But the Celtics responded with five in a row and opened the fourth with an 8-0 round, including six for Parker, who turned the three-pointer into 102-90 from 10:15 to the end.
Delaying Portis by 8 minutes until the end marked the start of the Bucks’ attack. They drew at 111 when Antetokounmpo scored and was fouled in 1:26. He missed a free-kick, and Brown made a pair on the other side, putting Boston ahead. But Wes Matthews scored 3 points, leading 114-113 in 30.3 seconds, and the Bucks held out.
“I think we can only get up from here,” said Celtics defender Payton Richard. “We are learning how we finish the games. Therefore, we must take it as a good thing for us. We are growing, so eventually, we will be good in this area and handle it. “
WES’ WINNING WAYS
Saturday was the first time in Matthews’ career he played a home game for Christmas. This was even more special as he arrived in his home state and a few days after the death of his grandmother.
He was supposed to attend the match, which would be his first since the beginning of the pandemic. “It definitely showed up, but it’s not true,” said Matthews, who scored nine points on Saturday and has now scored 31 in three games since returning from COVID-19 protocols.
“Thus, it has been so good for us since he returned,” Budenholzer said. “It has a huge impact on our victory.” Along with Antetokounmpo, the Bucks welcomed center-back Bobby Portis and Donte Di Vincenzo. Portis was recorded on December 19, four days after Di Vincenzo had not played since injuring his left leg during the playoffs last season.
One player was still on the pre-game injury report: center Brooke Lopez recovering from back surgery. “It was weird,” said Bucks security guard Jrue Holiday. “It was difficult to get the queues out of order because we didn’t have enough people, and now it was crowded.”
Antetokunmpo played 30 minutes on Saturday, Portis scored 16 points in 22 minutes, and Di Vincenzo added three in 15 minutes. To help fill their sold-out squad, the Celtics signed 10-day deals with Al-Farouk Aminu and Norvel Pelle on Saturday morning.
This Christmas, the Bucks is 5-3 all-time this Christmas, including 3-0 in Milwaukee. The Celtics have dropped to 15-20 in their all-time Christmas games.