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As it happened: Celtics lose to Bucks, 101-89, in Game 1

Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Robert Williams in Game 1.Steven Senne/Associated Press

The Celtics lost to the Bucks, 101-89, in Game 1 of the NBA conference semifinals at TD Garden.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had 21 and 12 points, respectively, and combined to make just 10 of 31 shots. But the numbers weren’t much better elsewhere, with the Celtics shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and committing 18 turnovers.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to lead Milwaukee, offsetting a 9 for 25 shooting day. Jrue Holiday added 25 points and 10 rebounds.

Marcus Smart left late in the second quarter with what appeared to be a serious arm injury, but the team diagnosed it as a stinger and he returned to the game.


Game 2 is Tuesday night.

See how the game unfolded below.

See the play-by-play | See the box score

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Celtics faced a whole new challenge, and other observations — 3:42 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

After the Celtics roared through the second half of the season, their first-round sweep of the Nets did nothing to dent hopes about what could be possible. And when Bucks All-Star Khris Middleton was ruled out with a knee injury, with the Celtics already holding home-court advantage, optimism truly began to swell.

But Milwaukee is still the defending NBA champion, and it still has Giannis Antetokounmpo. And on Sunday, it provided a loud reminder in case anyone forgot. Using their physical, menacing defense, the Bucks turned every Celtics possession into a chore and mostly controlled their 101-89 win that gives them a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series.

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown had 21 and 12 points, respectively, and combined to make just 10 of 31 shots. But the numbers weren’t much better elsewhere, with the Celtics shooting just 33.3 percent from the field and committing 18 turnovers.


Antetokounmpo had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to lead Milwaukee, offsetting a 9 for 25 shooting day. Jrue Holiday added 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The Celtics held an early 22-14 lead, but the Bucks pushed ahead by the end of the quarter and led for the final 34 minutes of the game.

Read more here.

Celtics lose, 101-89 — 3:39 p.m.

That was about as worst-case scenario as it can get for the Celtics.

Celtics sub out the starters — 3:35 p.m.

Rob Williams, Grant Williams, Jaylen Brown, and Jayson Tatum are on the bench.

Looks like this one’s over.

Q4, 1:59: Bucks 101, Celtics 87 — 3:34 p.m.

Antetokounmpo has 24 points.

Q4, 2:41: Bucks 99, Celtics 87 — 3:32 p.m.

Smart looks tired.

Q4, 3:42: Bucks 96, Celtics 84 — 3:28 p.m.

Is there enough time for Boston to rally?

Celtics facing their biggest deficit yet — 3:19 p.m.

Boston is down, 94-78, after an incredible Giannis play.

Celtics can’t make a field goal right now — 3:13 p.m.

Boston’s current field goal percentage (31 percent) would be their mark worst of the regular season. The Celtics lost all eight regular-season games this year when they shot 39 percent or worse. The question moving forward will be: How much of this performance was caused by Milwaukee’s defense vs. shots simply not falling?

Jaylen Brown is really struggling — 3:09 p.m.

Jaylen Brown is struggling big time. He’s shot 2 of 10 from the field and 1 of 7 from three. To make matters worse, he’s turned the ball over five times. Even if the shots are not falling, Brown has to take care of the ball better.

What Ime Udoka said at the break — 3:08 p.m.

Ime Udoka did an interview with ABC prior to the fourth quarter.

On Marcus Smart: “He’s just got to stay loose, he said he’s OK. ... He’s a warrior, he’ll be ready in the fourth quarter.”


On the message to the team: “Play with poise. We haven’t played a good three quarters yet.”

The reason the Celtics are down — 3:05 p.m.

Both teams are struggling with turnovers, but here is the difference: The Bucks have scored 20 points off Boston’s 14 turnovers, while the Celtics have scored just six off Milwaukee’s 12.

End of third quarter: Bucks 78, Celtics 70 — 3:02 p.m.

Well, the Bucks won the non-Giannis minutes, so that’s never a good sign. Milwaukee heads into the fourth-quarter with an eight-point lead. Things could have been worse, if Ime Udoka didn’t win his challenge on a foul that would have sent Grayson Allen to the line to shoot three.

Celtics win the challenge — 2:58 p.m.

But Brook Lopez sent the jump ball to the Bucks.

Giannis has four fouls — 2:52 p.m.

Giannis Antetokounmpo just picked up his fourth foul with 3:37 remaining in the third quarter. He made an odd decision to blitz Tatum behind the three-point line. The Celtics have an opportunity to capitalize on these non-Giannis minutes.

Smart playing through injuries — 2:46 p.m.

Marcus Smart is clearly bothered by his right quad contusion, but continues to play through the injury. He went down in pain after defending Jrue Holiday on a drive and remained down on the court for Boston’s ensuing offensive possession. In typical Smart fashion, he took a charge on Milwaukee’s next play.

Turnovers killing the Celtics — 2:41 p.m.

Injury timeout: 7:02 Q3, Bucks 64, Celtics 56 — 2:37 p.m.

Ime Udoka called a timeout so that trainers could tend to Robert Williams, who was hit in the groin. Williams left the court and limped back to the locker room.

Robert Williams down — 2:36 p.m.

Celtics are struggling to get inside — 2:32 p.m.

The Celtics have struggled to get much going inside the arc, connecting on just 6 of their 21 two-point shots. The Bucks boasts size, with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis, and Brook Lopez all in the starting lineup, and their interior defense has been hard to pick apart.


Jayson Tatum getting hot? — 2:30 p.m.

That’s two threes in the third quarter already. Celtics are down, 58-52, with 9 minutes left.

What the Celtics need to improve in the second half — 2:27 p.m.

The first half did not go well for the Celtics, largely thanks to Milwaukee’s defense. A couple of notable stats that need to improve in the second half: nine turnovers and six fastbreak points. There are reasons to be encouraged, however. On Boston’s 16 field goals, 11 were assisted — a sign that they are moving the ball, creating for one another, and getting the Bucks to rotate.

A sigh of relief from fans at TD Garden — 2:25 p.m.

What the stats say about the Celtics’ first-half defense — 2:22 p.m.

The Bucks were 5-of-22 when Al Horford or Grant Williams was defending a shot in the first half.

Marcus Smart expected to return for second half — 2:18 p.m.

With just over a minute remaining, Smart was driving into the paint when play stopped because Pat Connaughton was whistled for a foul. Smart let go of the ball and dropped slightly to the floor, before making his way to the sideline with his right arm limp. He appeared to be in obvious pain and immediately went back to the locker room. Read more here.

The Celtics diagnosed Smart with a right shoulder stinger and right quad contusion.

False alarm on Marcus Smart? — 2:14 p.m.

Marcus Smart is expected to return to the game after rushing to the locker room late in the second quarter. It appears he was hit with a stinger.

Celtics down 10 at the half — 2:12 p.m.

The Celtics are down, 56-46, at half of Game 1.


Here’s what some of our writers are seeing:

Marcus Smart leaves the floor with injury — 2:07 p.m.

Marcus Smart just went back to the locker room, holding his right arm.

A defensive clinic — 1:59 p.m.

This game has been a defensive clinic. One reason why the Bucks are up is because Antetokounmpo has been able to find open teammates. Antetokounmpo has six assists, and the Bucks are shooting 50 percent from three.

Timeout, 6:38 2Q: Bucks 34, Celtics 32 — 1:52 p.m.

Here’s a stat check:


Marcus Smart: 7 points

Payton Pritchard, Al Horford: 6 points


Jrue Holiday: 8 points

Bobby Portis: 7 points

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Pat Connaughton: 6 points

Turnovers, turnovers — 1:49 p.m.

Milwaukee committed its ninth turnover of the game with eight minutes left in the second quarter. It’s been a rough day for ball protection

What is that Jrue Holiday celebration? — 1:45 p.m.

If you’re wondering about Jrue Holiday’s celebration after he makes a three-pointer, it’s a reference to the television series “The Last Kingdom,” a historical fiction drama set in medieval England. Holiday is reaching back to grab his sword.

Rough start for Derrick White — 1:42 p.m.

End 1st quarter: Bucks 27, Celtics 24 — 1:40 p.m.

After the Celtics settled in offensively and built a seven-point lead, the Bucks ended the quarter on a 10-0 run for a 27-24 lead.

The Celtics should be disappointed that they couldn’t maintain more of an advantage after forcing seven turnovers, including three by Giannis Antetokoumpo.

Antetokounmpo finished the quarter with 6 points on 3 of 8 shooting, five rebounds, and four assists.

On the other hand, the Celtics could also be pleased that they are within three after Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown finished the first quarter a combined 1 of 7 from the field. Tatum has just one point, while Brown has three.

Timeout, 1:47 1Q: Celtics 24, Bucks 22 — 1:35 p.m.

Here’s the box score.

What we’re seeing from Robert Williams in his first start back — 1:32 p.m.

Robert Williams is already making an impact in his first start back, maintaining a strong defensive presence at the rim and staying active on the offensive glass. When he went to the bench, he had tallied four points on 2 of 3 shooting and five rebounds.

Famous faces in the house — 1:30 p.m.

Rapper Jack Harlow is in the house, as are Patriots owner Robert Kraft, inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and running back Damien Harris.

Celtics go on 7-0 run — 1:27 p.m.

The Bucks called a timeout after the Celtics went up, 18-12, with 4:42 left in the first quarter.

What we’re seeing from the Celtics — 1:25 p.m.

The Celtics are struggling to find an offensive rhythm, starting 3 of 10 from the field (30 percent) and 2 of 6 from three (33 percent). There’s going to be an adjustment from facing the Nets to the Bucks, who have the highest ranked defense of the playoffs.

TV timeout: Celtics 10, Bucks 10 — 1:19 p.m.

A few clips from the Celtics:

And we’re off — 1:11 p.m.

Here we go.

What it’s like in TD Garden right now — 1:00 p.m.

There’s no Kyrie Irving this series, but fans still got their boos out during the starting lineup announcements. The loudest jeers came for two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. There were few changes to the Celtics’ pregame presentation.

Marcus Smart is certainly in the playoff spirit, sporting green hair à la Patriots defensive back Jalen Mills.

Starting lineups — 12:55 p.m.

Boston: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, Robert Williams

Milwaukee: Jrue Holiday, Wes Matthews, Bobby Portis, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez


Boston: None

Milwaukee: Khris Middleton, George Hill

Cedric Maxwell sidelined — 12:50 p.m.

Celtics radio color analyst Cedric Maxwell is out.

Doris Burke and Mark Jones are calling the game.

Why Jeff Van Gundy believes the Celtics have what it takes to knock off the defending champion Bucks — 12:45 p.m.

By Gary Washburn

Jeff Van Gundy and ABC broadcast partners Mike Breen and Mark Jackson will call Sunday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Celtics and Bucks. But before Van Gundy was an astute and entertaining analyst, he was coach of the Knicks and Rockets.

And he recently coached USA Basketball, where he got a chance to spend extensive time with Celtics coach Ime Udoka, an assistant on the staff. Van Gundy had nothing but compliments for the first-year coach and think his decisions have been key to the Celtics’ resurgence.

“I was with him in the World Cup and the Olympics. I’ve spent quite a lot of time around him and I think what I saw then is the same thing people see how,” Van Gundy said. “He’s very knowledgeable. He’s incredibly poised and he combined poise with intensity, and that’s not easy to do. I just think he’s super smart and that helps you in many different situations.”

Read the full story here.

‘I’ll always consider them family.’ — 12:30 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

As the Celtics flipped their frustrating season on its head and emerged as unlikely NBA title contenders, the man responsible for constructing most of the roster watched admiringly from about 2,000 miles away.

Last May, Danny Ainge retired after serving as the team’s president of basketball operations for 18 years. His children and grandchildren were getting older, his 2019 heart attack had caused him to reevaluate his priorities, and guiding a team during the COVID-19 pandemic had altered the in-person camaraderie and relationships that Ainge relished most.

He was reenergized after a six-month break, though, and last December Jazz owner Ryan Smith, Ainge’s close friend, convinced him to come to Utah as the team’s alternate governor and CEO.

That has put Ainge in an unusual position. He is dedicated to helping transform the Jazz into a championship team while also maintaining a connection to a franchise that was such an important part of his life for so long.

“It’s been fun watching [the Celtics] play,” Ainge said by telephone from Salt Lake City this past week, before the Jazz were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Mavericks. “Obviously, my focus is more on the Jazz, but it’s been fun to follow my old team and all my people back there. I still consider them and will always consider them — regardless of what happens from here on out — I’ll always consider them friends and family.”

Read Adam Himmelsbach’s full story.

How the Celtics rebounded into a title contender — 12:25 p.m.

By Gary Washburn

When asked about their dramatic turnaround, one that has them in the Eastern Conference semifinals and the betting favorite to reach the NBA Finals, the Celtics brass unanimously points to a Dec. 31 home win against the Suns.

Yet that wasn’t really the turning point.

“I feel like the loss to the Knicks, that buzzer-beater, was kind of like the low point of the season and everybody kind of felt it,” Jayson Tatum said. “We all stayed the course, stayed together, and we all felt like it was just a matter of time. We just haven’t looked back.”

Something happened after that loss. Something dramatic.

Read the rest of Gary Washburn’s story here.

Nicole Yang can be reached at nicole.yang@globe.com.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang. Katie McInerney can be reached at katie.mcinerney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.