NBA: Eastern heavyweights clash as Celtics host Bucks

Jayson Tatum Giannis Antetokounmpo NBA

FILE – Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics tackles Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the 4th round of Game 7 of the 2022 NBA Playoffs Eastern Semifinals at TD Garden on May 15, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. Adam Glanzman/Getty Images/AFP

The Boston Celtics will look to maintain their NBA best record on Sunday when they host the Milwaukee Bucks for the first time since last season’s Eastern Conference semifinals.

Boston was back on the winning track with Friday’s 121-109 win over Minnesota, where Jaylen Brown (36) and Jayson Tatum (30) combined for 66 points.

The Celtics have lost three and five in a row of their previous six games, without a home win since November 30 before beating the Timberwolves on Friday.

“I think what we saw in the second half (Wednesday’s loss to Indiana) and what we saw (Friday), that’s the best version of our team,” the interim coach said. Celtics Joe Mazzulla said. “And we just have to commit to that. If we get tougher physically and mentally and work on it, talent and everything else will solve that problem because we have that.”

Both members of the star duo scored 30 points in the same game for the 17th time of their careers on Friday, helping them overtake Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen for the third most points since five years. 1985.

Brown scored 23 of his 36 points in the fourth quarter to match the Minnesota team’s total and mark the highest scoring period of his career.

“I was able to get in and get motivated,” Brown said. “When I saw someone come in, I didn’t take my foot off the accelerator.”

The Celtics will be looking to keep their form against a Milwaukee club that lost their second straight game 118-100 on Friday in Brooklyn.

A win over Minnesota could be exactly the turning point the Celtics need.

“It feels great, sometimes you go into these ruts and you feel you’re passing and you can’t get over the hump and tonight we were able to do it,” said Al Horford, who has knocked out five 3-pointers and finished with 17 points ahead of Minnesota.

Boston has played for seven consecutive Christmas seasons and will host the holiday game for the fifth time ever.

The Celtics entered the game with a score of 23-10, just half a game ahead of the Bucks (22-10) to claim the best record of the East.

The Bucks, who have lost just two games in a row this season, have failed to break above the 50-point threshold in the first half of their last three defeats.

They were just 7-5 in December, scoring 112 points or less in those seven games.

“We’re getting comfortable — we’re just expecting, I don’t know, that people will give the game to us,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo. “It doesn’t work that way. … You have to go out there and play good basketball, build good habits, defend and play.”

Antetokounmpo (26 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and two steals) was heavily fouled in the third inning of Friday’s Nets loss, but the X-ray image was of his right hand. has been clearly confirmed.

“Mostly that means he’s fine,” said Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer. “I’m sure he’s probably a little sore, a little pounding.”

Brook Lopez scored 23 points. Eighteen Spins was the Bucks’ defeat to Brooklyn, as they led to 24 Nets.

“We have to take better care of the ball,” says Budenholzer. “We have to make better decisions. We can’t just have property without guns.”

The Bucks appeared to have dodged a bullet due to badly injured Antetokounmpo, but Khris Middleton missed the fourth game in a row due to knee pain.


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