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Preview: Bucks (44-38) at Celtics (55-27)
BT Movements  ·  Line Movements
Date: April 17, 2018 8:00 PM EDT
  

BOSTON -- When the Celtics signed Gordon Hayward to a huge free-agent contract and traded for Kyrie Irving in the offseason, they created what was supposed to be Boston's new Big Three, along with holdover Al Horford.

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Hayward was lost for the season with a gruesome leg injury in the first quarter of the first game of the season. Irving was eventually lost for the year, also because of injury.

That left Horford, a big man who draws the ire of some Celtics fans because of how quietly he goes about his business.

His coach loves him. The fans want more.

On Sunday, in the series opener against the Milwaukee Bucks, the fans got more.

"It's go time," Horford said after the overtime he helped fuel with 24 points and 12 rebounds in 44:19 of the game's 53:00. "This is the time where you want to play. You want to be in these games setting the tone. It all starts on the defensive end. I try to set the tone on defense and kind of go from there. I guess it's doing whatever I can do to help us win. That's what it's all about."

Horford also had four assists, three blocked shots and two steals in the win that gave the second-seeded Celtics a 1-0 series lead heading into Tuesday night's Game 2 at TD Garden.

All this after TV analyst Charles Barkley ripped Horford's pedestrian season totals -- 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 32 assists, saying, "When I was averaging his numbers, they made me retire."

But with Irving, Hayward, Marcus Smart and rookie Daniel Theis missing, Horford is more important to the offense.

"We're going to ride Al," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. "He's been unbelievable in being a facilitator for us all year. He has his moments, because of the way we're being defended, where he gets to be more of a featured scorer. With where we are now, he's going to be more of a featured scorer, and facilitate, and guard (Giannis Antetokounmpo), and do everything.

"He'll probably run our film session (on Monday)."

If Horford is nothing else, his basketball IQ is high and he does many things that don't show up on the stat sheet. His salary dictates higher numbers, but Stevens knows what he has in this player.

The Bucks, seeded seventh, tied Sunday's game on a miraculous 35-foot jumper by Kris Middleton at the regular buzzer, but the Celtics found a way to win the game.

"We played well and we played hard and that's what this series is going to be -- both teams fighting," Bucks coach Joe Prunty said.

Eric Bledsoe, making his first playoff appearance since 2014 -- as the Bucks look for their first series win since 2000 -- was beaten by Terry Rozier for the 3-pointer with half a second left that appeared to have won the game in regulation. Bledsoe scored nine points on 4-of-12 shooting and posted four assists and five turnovers.

He was also unintentionally slighted after the game by Rozier, who scored 17 of his 23 points in the second half and the OT. The Boston guard called Bledsoe "Drew Bledsoe," an inadvertent homage to the former New England Patriots quarterback.

And Antetokounmpo fouled out guarding Horford, who was 5 of 8 from the floor and hit 13 of his 14 free throws. Antetokounmpo felt like he failed despite 35 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists and three steals.

"I've got to do a better job guarding Horford," Antetokounmpo said. "He's a really big body, he's under control, he knows what he's doing down there. Hopefully in Game 2, I won't play on my heels. I'll play more on my toes and be able to defend without fouling, too."

Copyright 2018 by STATS LLC.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express
written consent of STATS LLC is strictly prohibited.
 SERIES AT A GLANCE
GAME 1
Bucks at Celtics
Sun, Apr 15 Final 107 to 113
 Recaps
GAME 2
Bucks at Celtics
Tue, Apr 17 Final 106 to 120
 Recaps
GAME 3
Celtics at Bucks
Fri, Apr 20 Final 92 to 116
 Recaps
GAME 4
Celtics at Bucks
Sun, Apr 22 Final 102 to 104
 Recaps
GAME 5
Bucks at Celtics
Tue, Apr 24 Final 87 to 92
 Recaps
GAME 6
Celtics at Bucks
Thu, Apr 26 Final 86 to 97
 Recaps
GAME 7
Bucks at Celtics
Sat, Apr 28 Final 96 to 112
 Recaps

 CURRENT LAS VEGAS LINE
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 MIL  -105   +1   200 
 BOS  -115   -1   
LAS VEGAS LINE MOVEMENTS

 CURRENT SPORTSBOOK LINE
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 MIL  -105   +1   200.5 
 BOS  -115   -1   
OFFSHORE LINE MOVEMENTS

 BETTING TRENDS
 Team  ML   SPR   O/U 
 MIL  63%   44%   77% 
 BOS  37%   56%   23% 
Betting Trends by BetOnline.ag
BT MOVEMENTS

 NBA HEAD TO HEAD
 Apr 15, 2018  Score  ATS Results 
 MIL 107 Over: 220 
 BOS « 113 Cover: 2 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Apr 3, 2018  Score  ATS Results 
 BOS 102 Cover: 0.5 
 MIL « 106 Over: 208 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Dec 4, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 MIL 100 Over: 211 
 BOS « 111 Cover: 6 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Oct 26, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 BOS « 96 Cover: 11.5 
 MIL 89 Under: 185 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Oct 18, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 MIL « 108 Cover: 9.5 
 BOS 100 Over: 208 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Apr 12, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 MIL 94 Push: 206 
 BOS « 112 Cover: 4.5 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Mar 29, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 MIL « 103 Cover: 10.5 
 BOS 100 Under: 203 
 Tools:   Recaps
 Jan 28, 2017  Score  ATS Results 
 BOS « 112 Cover: 6.5 
 MIL 108 Over: 220 
 Tools:   Recaps

 NBA PREVIEWS
 Tuesday, Apr 17
 
  •  Wizards at Raptors
7:05 PM EDT
  •  Bucks at Celtics
8:10 PM EDT
  •  Pelicans at Trail Blazers
10:40 PM EDT
 
 
 
  
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