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Celtics dominate Bucks in series opener

Giannis Antetokounmpo could not get through the forest of trees inside, and his supporting cast played like their legs were in casts.

The results were staggeringly bad, as the Boston Celtics scored an easy 112-90 victory in Game 1 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series Sunday at Fiserv Forum.

Antetokounmpo made just 7 of 21 shots — and he went 3 for 5 on 3-pointers — and the rest of the team fared just as poorly against a Celtics defense that simply bullied the Bucks out of the paint.

How poorly did the Bucks shoot? Khris Middleton went 5 for 12, and he was the best of the starting five.

Eric Bledsoe (1 for 5), Brook Lopez (1 for 5) and Sterling Brown (1 for 7) combined to go 3 for 17. Off the bench, Pat Connaughton went 2 for 10 and Ersan Ilyasova 3 for 9. Among players who played more than 3 garbage-time minutes, only Nikola Mirotic (5 for 9) and George Hill (4 for 8) made at least half their shots.

Except for a 6-minute span to close the first half, the Bucks were outscored by 37 points on their home floor.

A bad first quarter mushroomed into a 40-25 problem halfway through the second period before Mirotic and Middleton combined to make five 3-pointers in a 21-4 rush that gave the Bucks a 46-44 lead. Boston recaptured the lead at 52-50 by the half, and the final 24 minutes were similar to the first 18.

The Bucks shot just 34.8% (31 for 89) from the field. They even had trouble when not guarded, making just 15 of 24 (62.5%) of their free throws.

Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 22 points, going just 4 for 17 on two-point attempts.

The Celtics, meanwhile, had no such troubles. Kyrie Irving went off for 26 points and 11 assists. Al Horford chipped in 20 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots. Horford hit consecutive 3-pointers off pick-and-pop passes from Irving in the third quarter as the Celtice began to separate themselves.

Antetokounmpo and Lopez made 3-pointers in the opening minutes of the third quarter to give the Bucks a 56-54 lead at the 10:32 mark. Horford’s first 3-pointer capped a 12-0 run that made it 66-56. His second made it 70-60. Triples by Gordon Hayward and Terry Rozier capped what became a 32-9 run, and the Bucks never saw single digits again.

Game 2 arrives Tuesday night, and the Bucks had better find some answers.

Boston shot 54.0% (47 of 87) and only went 5 for 8 from the line. The Bucks committed just 11 fouls to 21 by the Celtics. Was that a sign they simply weren’t physical enough? Boston’s field goal shooting might suggest so.

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