Boston, MA—Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo was scratched with a right ankle sprain before the tipoff, hometown native Pat Connaughton got the nod in his place and scored 15 points. Milwaukee lost for the sixth time in their last nine games.
The game featured 22 lead changes — and eight ties — in the first 30 minutes before the Celtics went on a 13-2 run to turn a one-point deficit into a double-digit lead.
It took the Celtics a while to regain their composure.
“There’s always a natural letdown. That was the message before the game,” Ime Udoka said after Boston beat Milwaukee 122-113 in overtime Friday night. “The other guys are going to play hard and come in with a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude, and they did.”
Dennis Schröder scored a season-high 38 points — eight in overtime — as the Celtics took advantage of Antetokounmpo absence. Schröder made the plays down the stretch and kept the Bucks at bay.
Despite all the absences, though, there was no easy business for the Celtics tonight. The Bucks gave them everything they could handle, forcing Boston’s fourth overtime game of the young season. The Celtics — namely, Dennis Schröder — made the plays that counted most, however, and walked away with the 122-113 victory.
Jayson Tatum poured in 27 with 11 boards for Boston, which has won four of five since opening the season 2-5.
Schröder started off on fire with 14 first quarter points. But in the second quarter turnovers started to be a problem. Schröder committed three of the Celtics’ 10 first half turnovers, which allowed the young scrappy Bucks’ team to enter the break with a 55-51 lead.
When play resumed in the third, the turnover bug was still an issue as play resumed. Boston had three more turnovers in the quarter as they struggled to put the shorthand Bucks away. Luckily, the third quarter Marcus Smart put on a show, as he scored 12 points to refocus Boston’s offensive game. He closed the quarter with a nice, no-look pass to Al Horford for a bunny, and the Celtics entered the final quarter with an 88-81 lead
It was 106-100 with 73 seconds left in regulation when Allen drained a deep 3-pointer, then Tatum turned the ball over. George Hill made a putback of Holiday’s missed trey to trim the deficit to a point.
After Schröder hit a floater, Allen hit a step-back 3-pointer to tie it 108-all with 14 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Tatum’s short jumper at the end of regulation bounced off the front of the iron and the Celtics were headed for their sixth overtime period in 12 games.
“He got hot late, and we kind of rode his hand there,” Udoka said. “He had a great night tonight, which we needed.”
Boston led 112-111 halfway through overtime when Schröder made a pair of baskets, then hit a pair of free throws as the crowd shouted “M-V-P!”
“That’s just great,” he said. “But for me, that doesn’t count. I need a win, and that’s what we got.”
Robert Williams III had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Smart scored 12 of his 19 points in the third quarter, when the Celtics erased a four-point deficit and went up by seven.
“I tried to make it at the end,” Tatum said. “End the stress of all these overtimes.”
Bucks: At Atlanta on Saturday.
Celtics: At Cleveland on Saturday and Monday.