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NBA Playoffs 2018: Celtics take Game 1 over Bucks in overtime thriller

16 April 2018

Al Horford had 24 points and 12 rebounds and Boston overcame Khris Middleton's long 3-pointer that beat the fourth-quarter buzzer, topping the Bucks 113-107 in overtime to open their first-round Eastern Conference playoffs series. He was the first line of defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo and perhaps a greater part of the offense than he'd been all season. He played 44 minutes, the second highest mark on the team behind Jaylen Brown. "We have to throw a lot of different bodies at him". "We feel like if we get a shot up, we'll be good".

Meanwhile, Brad Stevens was hitching a ride on his Horford. "We've really worked hard all year to put ourselves in this position". He has his moments because of the way we're being defended where he gets to be more of a featured scorer. I figured (Eric) Bledsoe would bite, but whether he bit or not I was going to take the final shot.

Numbers? OK, Antetokounmpo outscored Horford, 35-24.

Middleton's 31 points and Giannis Antetokounmpo's 35 points, 13 rebounds, and 7 assists weren't enough to give the Bucks with a win.

But, as we've been saying all along, Horford is far more than digits can explain. "We were clogging the 3-point line".

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He got the ball to Marcus Morris on the other side of the floor, then sealed the defense so Morris could roll in for a layup.

Antetokounmpo made one of two foul shots with 14.8 seconds left, but he fouled out while going for the rebound on his miss. "We tried to contain him as best we could".

Smart, who hasn't played since March 11 and continues to work his way back from his March 16 surgery to fix a torn ligament, was also on the court getting up some shots before the game. "Hopefully next time I can knock down the free throw and not get into that situation".

By now, the Boston Celtics have come to expect adversity. "I'm not sure anybody was more exhausted than Al, because he put in an incredible effort for us". "But as of right now, Game 7 (or the) second round is the (goal)".

"I got to control the game, basically just filling what a point guard is supposed to do - filling Kyrie's shoes as much as I can", he said. "I'm glad that I was able to go in and finish the game". "Sometimes I think they're at their best when those things happen". "And at six fouls, you're out of the game". (But) it's go time.

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"It's going well. I'm trying to stay in shape".

Added Morris, "I mean, it's the playoffs". You've got to get back into it. In his 11th National Basketball Association season and 10th trip to the playoffs, is this the biggest challenge that's ever been presented him?

What made the play more confusing - and irritating, from a Bucks point of view - was that referee Jason Phillips initially called the foul on Antetokounmpo while another official called a jump ball from his angle.

"Yeah", Horford said, "this is probably the biggest challenge".

Boston's odds to win the National Basketball Association championship can be found at BetDSI and they are pegging the Celtics at +8000, which means that Brad Stevens' men are not among the most serious contenders to lift the National Basketball Association title this year.

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NBA Playoffs 2018: Celtics take Game 1 over Bucks in overtime thriller