Celtics-Bucks takeaway: Milwaukee's hot shot ends C's winning streak


Celtics-Bucks takeaway: Milwaukee's hot shots C's winning streak originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics' five-game winning streak was unilaterally broken on Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

It was a dominant performance from start to finish by the Bucks, who led by as many as 24 points in their 104-91 victory. That's the Celtics' largest deficit since they trailed the Los Angeles Clippers by 36 points on Jan. 27. They also recorded their biggest deficit of the season (43) on January 11th in Milwaukee.

The Bucks overcame their four-game losing streak behind an outstanding 3-point shooting performance (47.2 percent). All five starters scored in double figures, including Patrick Beverley (20 points) and Brook Lopez (15 points).

The Celtics were shorthanded in advance as Kristaps Porzingis and Al Horford had the night off. It was a tough offensive night for Boston, with only Jayson Tatum (22 points) and Jrue Holiday (12 points) scoring in double figures.

The Celtics (62-17) return home to host the New York Knicks (46-32) on Thursday night. First, here are three takeaways from Tuesday's loss.

Bucks catch fire from the depths

Milwaukee gave Boston a taste of its own medicine in Tuesday's matchup.

Bucks big man Brook Lopez set the tone by going 4-for-5 from 3-point range in the first quarter. As a team, Milwaukee shot 8 of 10 from distance in the first frame.

The Celtics, usually the superior shooting team, couldn't keep up with the Bucks' 3-point barrage. Milwaukee shot 55.5 percent (10-18) from distance in the first half, while Boston had 27 percent (5-18).

That's how the rest of the game went, as the C's shot an uncharacteristic 32.7 percent (17-52) from 3 and 39.8 percent overall. The Bucks shot an impressive 47.2 percent (17-36) on threes and 53.1 percent from the floor. Lopez (5-8 3-PT) and Patrick Beverley (4-8) were the main culprits for Milwaukee.

Everything was going well for the Bucks until superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo went down with his left calf in the third quarter. His teammates helped the two-time NBA MVP off the floor before he limped back to the locker room under his own power.

The Bucks later announced that Antetokounmpo would not return due to a left calf strain. Before the injury, he had 15 points (7-11 FG), eight rebounds, seven assists, two blocks and one steal.

After the game, Bucks coach Doc Rivers told reporters that Antetokounmpo would undergo an MRI to determine the severity of the injury.

Suffice it to say, with the postseason looming, losing Antetokounmpo for an extended period of time would be disastrous for the second-place Bucks. Even if the injury proves to be minor, it would be wise for Rivers to use his star for the team's final three games of the regular season.

The Celtics cut the Bucks' lead to 11 with a 12-5 run after Antetokounmpo's injury. Unfortunately, Boston couldn't carry that momentum into the fourth quarter, resulting in its first loss since March 28 in Atlanta.

Let them play

If the Celtics make history in 2023-24, it will mostly be because of their scoring. On Tuesday, however, they entered the record books with a bizarre statistic.

Boston became the first team in NBA history to play a game without attempting a free throw. The only shooting foul against the Bucks was overturned due to a foul. But before you point the finger at the officials for favoring Milwaukee, the Bucks only attempted two shots from the charity stripe. Only one free throw was made the entire game.

It's not like this wasn't a physical duel either. Multiple plays probably should have resulted in more attempts at the free throw line. For some reason the referees decided to swallow their whistles.