Celtics sur­vive wild fin­ish


Bos­ton coach Brad Stevens loves the post­sea­son be­cause it of­fers a chance to “bust nar­ra­tives.” The Celtics took their first step to­ward shat­ter­ing the be­lief they can’t win with­out their big­gest stars.

Al Hor­ford had 24 points and 12 re­bounds and Bos­ton over­came Khris Mid­dle­ton’s long 3 that beat the fourthquar­ter buzzer, top­ping the Mil­wau­kee Bucks 113-107 in over­time Sun­day to open the play­offs.

The Celtics led 99-96 with 0.5 se­conds left in reg­u­la­tion when Mid­dle­ton took an in­bounds pass on the far right wing and hit a con­tested 35footer. Bos­ton outscored Mil­wau­kee 14-8 in the ex­tra pe­riod.

Terry Rozier added 23 points, four re­bounds and three as­sists for Bos­ton in his first career play­off start. Jaylen Brown fin­ished with 20 points. Rookie Jayson Ta­tum added 19 points and 10 re­bounds.

Rozier said he knows he’s un­der a spot­light this post­sea­son with Kyrie Irv­ing out for the season fol­low­ing his re­cent knee surgery.

“I just know I gotta step up,” he said. “I know I gotta fill big shoes. I don’t feel no pres­sure. I’m glad to be in this po­si­tion.”

Game 2 in the best-of-seven se­ries is Tues­day night in Bos­ton.

Gian­nis An­te­tok­oun­mpo led the Bucks with 35 points, 13 re­bounds and seven as­sists be­fore foul­ing out in over­time. Mid­dle­ton had 31 points, eight re­bounds and six as­sists. Mal­colm Brog­don scored all 16 of his points af­ter half­time.

Af­ter a muted start, things opened for An­te­tok­oun­mpo. But he said he must do a bet­ter job at the de­fen­sive end against Hor­ford go­ing for­ward.

“He knows what he’s do­ing down there,” An­te­tok­oun­mpo said. “Hope­fully in Game 2 I won’t play on my heels and I’ll play more on my toes and be able to de­fend with­out foul­ing.”

Part of the rea­son the Bucks were in bad spots is be­cause they were ham­pered by turnovers. They com­mit­ted 20, lead­ing to 27 Bos­ton points.

“That’s not get­ting shot up,” Mid­dle­ton said. “We feel like if we get a shot up, we’ll be good.”

An ac­ro­batic, spin­ning layup by Ta­tum gave Bos­ton a 108-105 lead in over­time.

It was 108-106 when Hor­ford snared a re­bound and got it ahead to Rozier, who was fouled. He made two free throws to put the Celtics in front 110-106 with 18.8 re­main­ing.

An­te­tok­oun­mpo made one of two foul shots with 14.8 se­conds left, but he fouled out of the game while go­ing for the re­bound on his miss.

Rozier added three free throws to pro­vide the fi­nal mar­gin.

As­so­ci­ated Press photo

Mil­wau­kee Bucks' Eric Bled­soe, left, tries to pass the ball against Bos­ton Celtics' Shane Larkin, cen­tre, dur­ing the first quar­ter of Game 1 of an NBA bas­ket­ball first-round play­off se­ries, in Bos­ton, Sun­day.

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