Celtics 113, Bucks 107, OT
Boston coach Brad Stevens loves the postseason because it offers a chance to “bust narratives.”
The Celtics took their first step toward shattering the belief they can’t win without their biggest stars.
Al Horford had 24 points and 12 rebounds and host Boston overcame Khris Middleton’s long 3 that beat the fourth-quarter buzzer, topping the Milwaukee Bucks in overtime Sunday to open the playoffs.
The Celtics led 99-96 with 0.5 second left in regulation when Middleton took an inbounds pass on the far right wing and hit a contested 35-footer. Boston outscored Milwaukee 14-8 in the extra period.
Terry Rozier added 23 points, four rebounds and three assists for Boston in his first career playoff start. Jaylen Brown finished with 20 points. Rookie Jayson Tatum added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
Rozier said he knows he’s under a spotlight this postseason with Kyrie Irving out for the season following his recent knee surgery.
“I just know I gotta step up,” he said. “I know I gotta fill big shoes. I don’t feel no pressure. I’m glad to be in this position.”
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in Boston.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 35 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists before fouling out in overtime. Middleton had 31 points, eight rebounds and six assists. Malcolm Brogdon scored all 16 of his points after halftime.
Part of the reason the Bucks were in bad spots is because they were hampered by turnovers. They committed 20, leading to 27 Boston points.
Rockets 104, Timberwolves 101
James Harden scored 44 points and powered a big fourth-quarter run that allowed the host Houston Rockets to outlast the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game 1 of the first-round playoff series.
Minnesota scored four straight points to get within 3 with about 30 seconds left. Chris Paul added two free throws after that for Houston, but a tip-in by Karl-Anthony Towns got Minnesota back within 3. After a bad pass by Paul gave the Timberwolves a chance to tie it with 1.5 seconds left, Jimmy Butler’s shot was short.
The Timberwolves had a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Houston used a 9-0 run, with the last seven points from Harden, to make it 94-86 with about four minutes to go. Harden, who also had a steal in that span, capped the run with a 3-pointer that prompted Minnesota coach Tom Thibodeau to call a timeout.
The top-seeded Rockets had their hands full with the No. 8 Timberwolves on a night where Houston made just 10-of-37 3-pointers. Harden made 7-of-12 3-pointers, but Trevor Ariza, P.J. Tucker, Eric Gordon and Paul combined to make just 3 of their 22 tries.
Houston kept All-Star big man Towns in check, limiting him to just eight points after he’d averaged 21.3. Andrew Wiggins scored 18 points to lead Minnesota.
Thunder 116, Jazz 108
Paul George scored 36 points to help the host Oklahoma City Thunder defeat the Utah Jazz in Game 1 of their Western Conference playoff series.
George set an Oklahoma City playoff record with eight 3-pointers, blowing past the previous record of five. He made 8-of-11 shots from long range, and 13-of-20 shots overall. It was his first playoff game with the Thunder since being acquired in a trade with the Indiana Pacers in the offseason.
Russell Westbrook had 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists and Carmelo Anthony added 15 points for the Thunder, who will host Game 2 on Wednesday.
Jazz rookie Donovan Mitchell had 27 points and 10 rebounds, but he left in the second half with left foot soreness. He returned in the fourth but was hobbling.
Rudy Gobert scored 14 points, and Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder each added 13 for the Jazz.
The Thunder recovered from a 16-4 deficit to tie it at 25 at the end of the first quarter. Oklahoma City led 54-48 at halftime behind 20 points from George and 14 from Westbrook.
George hit his seventh 3-pointer to push Oklahoma City’s lead to 79-66. George hit a deep 2-pointer to close the quarter and give the Thunder an 81-72 lead.
Alex Abrines hit two 3-pointers early in the fourth quarter to give the Thunder a 92-80 lead and force Utah to call timeout.
The Thunder’s Corey Brewer, who was questionable with a right knee sprain, started.
NBA: Celtics survive wild finish, hold off Bucks 113-107 in OT
Celtics 113, Bucks 107, OT