The Washington Post

‘Freak’ dunk helps Milwaukee surge

BUCKS 101, CELTICS 89

- BY JIMMY GOLEN

boston — Giannis Antetokoun­mpo already had picked up his dribble and spent half of a Eurostep when he realized he had nowhere to go with the ball.

Instead of attempting an offbalance shot or passing to a well-guarded teammate, the twotime MVP flicked the ball high off the backboard, then followed it to the rim for a slam dunk.

“What did I see? I had the ball, and I was like, ‘Oh, crap. I’m going to get stuck,’ ” Antetokoun­mpo said after recording his second career postseason tripledoub­le to lead the Milwaukee Bucks to a 101- 89 victory over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of their second-round series Sunday.

“I threw it to the backboard,” he said. “I’m lucky enough that God blessed me with the ability to jump. I had a good jump to go get it again, and I was able to finish the play.”

Antetokoun­mpo had 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists as the defending NBA champions swiped home-court advantage in the best-of-seven series. (He does not get an assist for passing the ball to himself.)

“That’s just pure talent, just pure instinct,” Bucks Coach Mike Budenholze­r said. “He’s a great player. He does things that are unique and special and timely. That’s one of those plays where you’re happy he’s on our side.”

Jrue Holiday had 25 points and 10 rebounds and Bobby Portis had 15 points and 11 boards for the Bucks, who are back at TD Garden for Game 2 on Tuesday night.

Jayson Tatum scored 21 and Jaylen Brown had 12 points, but the two Boston stars combined to shoot 10 for 31 in the game. Al Horford added 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Celtics, who fired up 50 three-pointers, making 18, and shot 33 percent from the field as a team.

“Offensivel­y, not our best night. I thought we guarded well enough,” Celtics Coach Ime Udoka said. “To lose a 12-point game when we shot so poorly bodes well for us. In a way it’s good to get this dud out of the way, offensivel­y.”

After shutting down Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a four-game sweep of the Brooklyn Nets, Boston couldn’t stop Antetokoun­mpo — even with greenhaire­d defensive player of the year Marcus Smart shaking off a shoulder injury.

Antetokoun­mpo scored eight straight Milwaukee points at the end of the first half to bring a double-digit lead into the break. Boston was within seven in the final minute of the third quarter before going without a bucket for more than four minutes while the Bucks scored 11 of the next 14 points — including the Greek Freak’s freakish alley-oop to himself that gave Milwaukee a 94-78 lead.

“I can’t do that. I wouldn’t even think about trying,” Holiday said. “He’s got a great nickname.”

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