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Playoffs 2019

NBA Playoffs 2019: Takeaways from Boston Celtics dominating road win over Milwaukee Bucks in Game 1

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Bucks vs. Celtics Game 1 (NBA Getty Images)

The Boston Celtics stole Game 1 on the road as they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks by a final score of 112-90.

Al Horford played like a monster, locking down Giannis Antetokounmpo on defence while producing his best offensive scoring performance of the postseason with 20 points.

Kyrie Irving went off for a double-double of 26 points and 11 assists while Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier provided a huge spark off the bench, doing a little bit of everything.

Eric Bledsoe, Sterling Brown and Brook Lopez, meanwhile, combined for 12 points on 3-for-17 shooting from the field, leaving Milwaukee needing more from its starting unit.

For more on the Celtics' impressive road victory, we have you covered with takeaways below...

A game of runs

Khris Middleton got the Bucks going right away with a pair of 3-pointers to start the game as Milwaukee took an early 7-4 lead in the opening minutes.

The Celtics then made the first big push, going on a 17-3 run to jump out to a 21-10 lead to set the tone for the game.

It was a balanced scoring effort throughout the run with Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward's four points apiece sparking the team. The defensive end is where Boston made the biggest difference, taking the ball out of Antetokounmpo's hands and forcing the Bucks' supporting cast to try and beat them.

They carried this momentum through the end of the first quarter into the second, taking a commanding 40-25 lead before Milwaukee made their run.

Just as the home crowd began to check out of the first half, the Bucks rattled off 15 unanswered points to tie the game to get the Fiserv Forum rocking.

A pair of 3-pointers from Nikola Mirotic and an and-1 pull-up jumper from Middleton ignited the run while Ersan Ilyasova went to work on the glass, corralling offensive boards on consecutive possessions, which led to free throws and a put-back layup.

The Bucks charged back to tie the game, but the Celtics' third quarter runs made the difference in the game.

In the third, Boston went on two separate 12-0 runs to take Milwaukee out of it. Trailing 56-54, they rattled of 12 straight points behind a couple huge plays from Al Horford.

Boston then went on its second 12-0 run of the quarter, taking a 86-65 lead that the Bucks could not overcome.

Boston's defence on Antetokounmpo

The Celtics have a history of defending Antetokounmpo well, and Game 1 was no exception.

It started in the first quarter, when the Celtics held Antetokounmpo to only one point. He missed all three of his field goal attempts and had one assist to start the game, a big reason why the Bucks weren't able to score more than 17 points in the period.

Antetokounmpo managed to get himself going a little in the second quarter with seven points, but his struggles continued in the third - five points on 2-for-9 shooting - when the Celtics took control of the game.

Antetokounmpo finished Game 1 with 22 points, eight rebounds and two assists. He missed 14 of his 21 shot attempts and made only five of his 10 free throw attempts. The Celtics outscored the Bucks by 26 points with him on the court, his second-worst +/- of the season.

It takes a team effort to contain Antetokounmpo like the Celtics did in Game 1, but it was Horford who guarded the MVP candidate for most of the game. Horford blocked three shots, all of which came against Antetokounmpo on drives to the basket.

It's sequences like this that show how unique of a defensive player Horford is:

Horford made an impact on offence as well in Game 1 with 20 points.

If Horford can continue to get the better of Antetokounmpo, it's going to be a short series for the Bucks.

Where was Eric Bledsoe?

Antetokounmpo wasn't the only Buck to struggle in Game 1.

Eric Bledsoe, who is coming off of the best regular season of his career, finished with six points and four assists on 1-for-5 shooting from the field and 0-for-4 from 3-point range.

Bledsoe ended up playing only 25 minutes, a couple less than his backup, George Hill.

It was reminiscent of Milwaukee's first-round matchup with Boston last season. Bledsoe played well in Game 7 - a game the Bucks lost by 16 points - but he averaged 12.0 points on 38.9 percent shooting through the first six games of the series.

The Bucks simply can't afford for him to not make a positive impact in this series.

Home court impact

The value of home court advantage cannot be understated in the playoffs. We saw the importance of it in the first round series between these two teams a season ago when the home team won every single game, leading to a Game 7 win at the TD Garden for the Celtics to end the Bucks' season.

This time around, Milwaukee had the best record in the NBA all year long, giving them home court advantage throughout the entire postseason.

On top of that, the Bucks had the best home record in the league, going 33-8 at the Fiserv Forum.

It might be extreme to say all of that goes out the window after dropping Game 1 at home, but now the pressure is on them to make sure they get at least one before turning to Games 3 and 4 in Boston.

The Celtics have had no trouble winning this playoffs, but they are now 3-0 on the road. They showed no signs of fear playing on the road in Game 1 and know that they'll be at a significant advantage over the team that could not beat them in Boston last season if they can repeat that performance in Game 2.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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