Giannis Antetokounmpo powers Bucks over Celtics in NBA playoffs

Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a triple double with 24 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to power the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks over the Boston Celtics 101-89 in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Greek star and his teammates overwhelmed the NBA’s top-rated defensive squad to start the best-of-seven series, which continues in Boston on Tuesday.

In the Western Conference, the visiting Golden State Warriors held on for a 117-116 win over the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1.

In Boston, Antetokounmpo scored or assisted on 55 of Milwaukee’ 87 points made when he was on the court.

“I just like to be aggressive,” he said. “I want to be aggressive. My teammates want me to be aggressive. I’m trying to get into the paint for my teammates and for myself.”

Antetokounmpo made three turnovers in the first five minutes as Boston used multiple defenders to guard the Greek giant.

But from there, Antetokounmpo was able to lift the Bucks despite Milwaukee playing without forward Khris Middleton due to a sprained left knee ligament.

Milwaukee’s Jrue Holiday scored a game-high 25 points with 10 rebounds while Bobby Portis added 15 points and 11 rebounds as the Bucks kept it intense and physical.

“We’ve got to beat them,” Antetokounmpo said. “We’ve got to be here tonight, guard them as tough as possible, make it as tough for them as possible, make them play one-on-one, rebound the ball and go the other way.”

The Celtics shot a woeful 28-of-84 from the floor (33.3%) and made only 10 baskets inside the 3-point arc while attempting a franchise playoff record 50 3-point shots.

“It’s good to get this dud out of the way,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “Offensively not our best night. We saw what they were trying to do speeding us up and a lot of it worked.”

Udoka was unhappy about the Bucks scoring 27 points off 18 Celtic turnovers and said Boston’s inability to score inside was “alarming.”

“We settled for some tougher 3-point shots,” he said. “That’s what they want to do, protect the paint and make you shoot 3-pointers and for the most part I don’t think our decision making was great.”

Boston’s Marcus Smart, the NBA Defensive Player of the Year, suffered a right shoulder injury and thigh bruises in the second quarter and struggled in the second half as Milwaukee closed out the win.

The Bucks closed out the first quarter with a 10-0 run to take 27-24 edge and ended the second on an 11-3 run for a 56-46 halftime lead.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 21 points while Jaylen Brown and Al Horford each added 12 points, while Horford pulled down 10 rebounds. Smart had 10 points and six assists.

Jordan Poole led the way for the Warriors in the day’s other game, scoring 31 points on 12-for-20 shooting. Stephen Curry finished with 24 points.

Poole and Curry drained five 3-pointers apiece as the Warriors recovered from a double-digit deficit in the first half as well as the surprise ejection of veteran forward Draymond Green. Andrew Wiggins finished with 17 points, and Klay Thompson scored 15 despite making only six of 19 shots from the field.

Ja Morant led the Grizzlies with 34 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds. Jaren Jackson Jr. contributed 33 points and 10 rebounds, while De’Anthony Melton scored 14 off the bench.

The teams will meet for Game 2 on Tuesday night.

Neither team led by more than four points during the final five minutes, which featured four ties and two lead changes.

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