Jayson Tatum, Celtics’ Domination of Giannis, Bucks Has Fans Rethinking East Favorite

Jayson Tatum, Celtics’ Domination of Giannis, Bucks Has Fans Rethinking East Favorite
Francisco RosaMarch 31, 2023

MILWAUKEE, WI - MARCH 30: Jayson Tatum #0 of the Boston Celtics drives to the basket during the game against the Milwaukee Bucks on March 30, 2023 at the Fiserv Forum Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2023 NBAE (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images).

Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images

Thursday night was a scary sight for the rest of the Eastern Conference as the Boston Celtics laid an absolute smackdown on the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum, coming away with a 140-99 win.

It couldn’t have come at a better time either as both teams are down to their last handful of games of the regular season. It was also the final regular-season meeting between the two teams, with the Celtics winning the season series 2-1.

That kind of beatdown will certainly be lingering in the back of both teams’ minds if they do end up meeting in the postseason.

Perhaps the best sign for Boston that came out of Thursday night was Jayson Tatum’s performance, as he dropped 40 points with eight rebounds on 12-of-18 shooting from the field and 8-of-10 from beyond the arc.

It was his best three-point shooting performance of the year as his previous high was 66.7 percent.

Not to be forgotten, Jaylen Brown dropped 30 points of his own as Boston’s star duo had their way with Milwaukee’s defense all night.

The game was pretty much over at halftime after the Celtics outscored the Bucks 41-21 in the second quarter to take a 28-point lead into the locker room, and they never took their foot off the gas.

Thursday’s performance looked much more like the team that was the class of the NBA to start the season and may be exactly what Boston needs to spark another special run in the postseason.

The game had NBA Twitter reevaluating what it thought of both teams heading into the playoffs.

Boston Celtics @celtics

Statement. Made. pic.twitter.com/MUmSY1ovGK

Boston Celtics @celtics

JT’s going nuclear ☢️ pic.twitter.com/X2w5Wgr2mM

Wes Reynolds @WesReynolds1

Celtics sent the message tonight.

Kevin Walsh Jr. @TheKevinWalsh

The Celtics having Milwaukee and Philly’s number seems PRETTY ideal for them

Mike Gwizdala @MikeGwizdala

If the #Celtics play at this level in the playoffs, they’re going to be tough to beat. https://t.co/g9iTN632dO

Mike Cronin Jr. @MikeCroninWMUR

Celtics are winning the title if they play like this in the playoffs

Wes B @wildwildW3S

Bucks are the weakest team out of the top 3 in the East (Sixers, Celtics, Bucks)

Hacksaw Stim Duggan @DanteLaSoul

Celtics are the best team in the East when they stay motivated and stop taking minutes off

Kyle @slim_reaper99

Celtics match up every well with the Bucks, the Celtics will win the East

Bleacher Report @BleacherReport

Celtics dropped 75 PTS in the first half 😳 pic.twitter.com/xvMd0wdSoX

Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan @NekiasNBA

1) This is an *incredible* effort from the celtics tonight. utter dominance. Superb shot-making, switching flattened out MIL, drives really hurt. Highlights some weakpoints for MIL.

2) THIS IS WHY WE SHOULDN’T HAVE THIS MATCHUP WITH A TEAM ON THE SECOND NIGHT OF A BACK TO BACK

Adam Himmelsbach @AdamHimmelsbach

Long way to go, but even if the Celtics don’t catch the Bucks for the 1 seed a game like this could at least reaffirm that winning a playoff game in Milwaukee is hardly an impossible task.

CelticsWRLD @CelticsWRLD17

Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown tonight pic.twitter.com/l5Z3hLn6uY

Lord Second @Regelitoo

Every time the Celtics hit a 3 pic.twitter.com/VF6NxTQpGC

CelticsWorld @WorldOfCeltics

Joe Mazzulla was the Celtics defensive mastermind and just waited until now to reveal it

Sean Grande @SeanGrandePBP

30 for 30

This is the 30th time since 2001 the Celtics have taken a 30-point lead on the road.

(The first against a team with the NBA’s best record.)

Perhaps even more impressive than what they did on the offensive end of the floor was the job the Celtics did on Giannis Antetokounmpo defensively. They contained one of the league’s best players after he scored 38 on Wednesday.

Antetokounmpo finished with just 24 points on 11-of-27 shooting and had to work for everything he got. Nothing came easy as Boston consistently threw two bodies at him and never let the two-time MVP get into any sort of rhythm.

The Athletic NBA @TheAthleticNBA

“Gimme that.”

Robert Williams ❌ Giannis Antetokounmpo pic.twitter.com/8d6bzUqmqZ

StatMuse @statmuse

The Bucks had scored 100+ points in 33 straight games entering tonight.

The Celtics held them to 99 points. pic.twitter.com/IBmo0joCKi

The gap at the top of the East is now down to just two games with five games remaining as the Celtics just took a huge step toward potentially taking the top seed back. They don’t have the most difficult matchups down the stretch either.

Aside from a game against the 76ers on April 4, the Jazz, Raptors (twice) and Hawks are the teams left on Boston’s schedule, none of which have a winning record.

Meanwhile the Bucks still have games against Philadelphia and Memphis looming.

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