Celtics stop Bucks in record-setting win, 87-56

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Celtics stop Bucks in record-setting win, 87-56

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

BOSTON The Boston Celtics are not the same team defensively since the Feb. 24 trading deadline.

But for those who believe the C's defensive foundation was rubble-bound, take note of how the Celtics crushed the Milwaukee Bucks, 87-56, on Sunday.

It wasn't just another victory, which also snapped a two-game losing skid.

The Celtics delivered the defensive hammer with the kind of power and force we haven't seen from them all season.

"That's about as humiliating a defeat as you'll ever see," said Bucks coach Scott Skiles.

Rather than ease into the game, the Celtics starting five choose to put on the defensive clamps which made for an easy win.

"They got us on our heels and took our competitive fight away from us," Skiles said. "We pretty much gave into it."

It was a much-needed blowout for a team whose starting five has - lately at least - struggled to gain a firm grip at the outset of games.

Those problems of the past two games were nowhere to be found against the Bucks.

"It's nice," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers, referring to his first unit getting off to a good start. "When they do, we're a better team, obviously. That's what we're banking on right now until we get right. When they start out slow it puts us in a huge hole, because now you're dependent on a second unit that hasn't been together very long."

Boston did have a familiar face return to the lineup on Sunday.

Having missed the previous four games with a left knee injury, Davis came off the bench to score nine points along with grabbing seven rebounds.

But the story of the night was Boston's defense, which gave up a franchise record-low 56 points. The previous record was set against the Hawks -- who, ironically, were based in Milwaukee at the time, prior to moving to first St. Louis and then Atlanta -- in 1955.

Other records of note established by the Celtics on Sunday included:

franchise-low in points given up in a half (22);

franchise-low in points given up after three quarters (38)

franchise-low in fewest field goals allowed (22).

Also, the 56 points scored were a franchise record-low for the Bucks in the shot-clock era.

Even though the Celtics played a record-setting brand of defense, Rivers wasn't convinced his team deserves all the credit. The Bucks were in the second night of a back-to-back stretch, having played Saturday at home against Philadelphia.

"I really thought this was one of those scheduled losses for Milwaukee," Rivers said. "It was very similar to the game we had against Phoenix on Jan. 28. The Bucks played a game, and . . . then lost an hour going backwards from the Central time zone to the East. Then they lost another hour with the time change from Standard time to Daylight Savings Time. And then we started the game at 6 o'clock instead of the normal 7:30 starting time. I just thought . . . they were tired. We took advantage of that, and that was great. But a lot of it had to do with their schedule."

Schedule or not, the Celtics came out with the kind of focus and attention to detail on defense that we hadn't seen recently.

"It was definitely encouraging to just put together a four-quarter game of defense," said Paul Pierce. "I definitely thought we did that tonight."

Even more impressive was how very little changed for the Celtics defensively when they went to their bench.

Rivers elected to take Rajon Rondo out about midway through the first quarter, with the Celtics ahead, 10-4.

He had Carlos Arroyo finish out the quarter which ended with the Celtics going on a 10-5 run.

Boston continued to stifle the Bucks with a suffocating defense that took away everything the Bucks wanted to do.

And the struggles by Milwaukee started with point guard Brandon Jennings.

He had eight points and just one turnover, but there was never a point in the game where it seemed comfortable.

And his lack of comfort seemed to be contagious to the rest of the Bucks.

"We were so passive," Skiles said. "You could tell their plan was to jump on our point guard early, jump on our guard, get up into them, and see if we had any sort of response to it, and we didn't."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

Isaiah Thomas still unsure whether hip will require surgery

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Isaiah Thomas said it will be at least another month before he and the Boston Celtics will know for sure if he’ll need surgery on his right hip or an alternative means of treatment.

“Take it day by day and whatever happens in the next four to six weeks, then go from there and attack that as is,” Thomas said on Friday.

Thomas took a hard spill on his right hip against Minnesota on March 15, and re-aggravated the injury during Boston’s second-round series against Washington. The Celtics’ medical staff treated the injury for several weeks, but the pain began to increase and the potential risk of it becoming a long-term problem only grew.

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In the first half of Boston’s Game 2 loss to Cleveland in the conference finals, the hip began to severely limit his play which was evident by him scoring two points in the first half of that game while missing all six of his shots from the field.

The Celtics medical team examined him at halftime and determined that in the best interest of his long-term health, he had to be shut down for the rest of the playoffs.

Needless to say, that did not go over well with Thomas.

“They had multiple people come in and talk to me about what’s more important,” Thomas recalled. “I definitely wasn’t trying to hear that at that point in time.”

Not only because of his competitive nature, but also because the Celtics were in the Conference finals for the first time since 2012.

“Conference finals, that’s the biggest stage I’ve ever been on,” Thomas said. “To not be able to go back out there in the second half … was painful; it hurt me.”

Now Thomas finds himself having to be patient and allow his body to heal up, realizing the big picture – his future – has to take precedence over what he’s accustomed to this time of year which is to take a couple weeks off and get right back in the gym to start working on his game and prepping for next season.

Not only is this a big summer in terms of him getting his body right, but he’s also eligible for a contract extension.

When asked about an extension, Thomas quipped, “That means more money? I’d love that.”

He added, “if it don’t happen, I'm the last person to be bothered by that. I know everything happens for a reason. So when my time comes, I know … God will bless me.”

The two-time all-star will earn just $6.26 million in the final year of the four-year, $27 million deal he signed in 2014 with Phoenix.

While being hurt isn’t ideal when talks center around an extension, Thomas isn’t overly concerned about his contract status and whether or not it changes this summer.

“That time will come. Whatever happens, happens,” Thomas said. “I’ve proved myself. The world knows what I bring to the table. I can’t do anything to control anything else. Whatever happens this summer with contracts, it happens. If not, we’ll wait until next summer and see where we go.”

While his contract status may be unclear, there’s no mistaking that Thomas wants to stay in Boston long-term.

“Boston has changed my career, changed my life,” said Thomas who came to Boston via trade in February of 2015. “I’d love to be here long-term and win championships here. As you guys know it’s a business; anything can happen. And I know that, I understand that. I would love to be here. This has been everything to me.”