Kyrie Irving Propels Celtics to Win vs. Bucks Despite Giannis Antetokounmpo's 40

Joseph ZuckerFeatured ColumnistDecember 4, 2017

Boston Celtics' Kyrie Irving drives on Milwaukee Bucks' Eric Bledsoe during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game in Boston, Monday, Dec. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The Boston Celtics earned a 111-100 home victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday at TD Garden.

Kyrie Irving finished with 32 points on 13-of-24 shooting. He added four rebounds, one assist and two steals.

The Bucks lost through no fault of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had a game-high 40 points and narrowly missed out on a double-double after collecting nine rebounds.  

Antetokounmpo also posterized Celtics center Aron Baynes for the third time this year. The Bucks star spun free of Al Horford and threw down a left-handed dunk despite the attempted resistance from Baynes.

Baynes can rest easy knowing Boston doesn't play Milwaukee again until April 3. By that time,  Antetokounmpo may have forgotten whatever the 30-year-old New Zealand native did to apparently draw his ire.

Monday night wasn't all that much different from what Antetokounmpo has been doing all season. He's still impressing NBA Twitter though:

Antetokounmpo did what he could in the second half to get the Bucks back into the game, and Milwaukee made things interesting after trailing 62-49 at halftime.

Trading Greg Monroe to the Phoenix Suns to land Eric Bledsoe made sense for the Bucks, since point guard was an obvious weak spot for the team. However, offloading Monroe also left Milwaukee without much depth at center, and Monday was an example of what can happen when the Bucks face a team with capable post scorers.

Boston owned a 60-34 edge in terms of paint scoring with Baynes and Al Horford contributing 10 and 20 points, respectively. The pair also helped the Celtics to a plus-17 advantage in rebounding. NBA TV showed Horford having a free path to the basket as he grabbed a miss by Marcus Smart and slammed home a put-back dunk:

Bledsoe had 18 points, and Khris Middleton chipped in with 19. The duo of Henson and Thon Maker, on the other hand, had zero points on 0-of-10 shooting.

Jayson Tatum entered Monday as the NBA's best three-point shooter (49.3 percent from beyond the arc). He improved his three-point percentage after connecting on four of his five attempts from the perimeter en route to a 17-point showing.

The NBA shared replays of all four makes, which came in the first half:

According to Celtics Stats, Tatum is the first Celtics rookie to have at least 10 points in 13 straight games since Paul Pierce in 1999.

The Celtics' five-game home stand will conclude Wednesday against the 6-17 Dallas Mavericks.

While the Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten things back on track after a slow start, the Celtics' place atop the Eastern Conference shouldn't be under imminent threat.

The Bucks have Tuesday off but will need to prepare for three games over the next four days when they return to the court Wednesday at home against the Detroit Pistons. Detroit and Milwaukee split their previous two meetings, with the home team winning each time.