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Bucks look to regain home-court advantage in crucial Game 3

Boston Celtics v Milwaukee Bucks - Game Two
Posted at 11:32 AM, May 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-03 12:54:36-04

The Celtics and Trail Blazers have stolen home-court advantage in their respective second-round playoff series. Now they're focused on keeping it as their series shift to Boston and Portland.

Boston, the East's fourth seed, came out strong and took Game 1 against top-seeded Milwaukee before getting blown out in Game 2. The series resumes Friday night at TD Garden, and the Celtics like their chances on a court where they've won 12 of their last 13 playoff games.

For that trend to continue, Boston must get a better performance from Jayson Tatum. The second-year forward averaged 19.2 points per game during the Celtics' first-round sweep of the Pacers, shooting 50 percent from the floor. In two games against Milwaukee, he has nine total points while connecting on 24% of his field-goal attempts.

"I watched film. I acknowledge that I gotta be better overall," Tatum said. "And I will be better. It's a bad game. It happens. I don't think too much of it. Just ready for Game 3."

The Celtics also will think about team president Danny Ainge, who suffered a mild heart attack Tuesday night in Milwaukee. The Celtics said the 60-year-old Ainge, who also had a mild heart attack in 2009, is expected to make a full recovery.

Milwaukee will hope to replicate its Game 2 performance in which it outscored Boston 39-18 in the third quarter of a 123-102 victory. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton carried the load, with help from Eric Bledsoe. He scored 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting after contributing six points on 1-of-5 shooting in Game 1.

"We're really dangerous, especially if Bledsoe is going downhill and is in attack mode. We're a totally different team," Antetokounmpo said.

Out West, the third-seeded Blazers return home for Game 3 against the second-seeded Nuggets eager to play with the same sense of urgency they displayed in their 97-90 Game 2 win.

Portland was also helped by a historically bad second-quarter effort by Denver. The Nuggets trailed 50-35 at halftime after the franchise's worst quarter ever at home in the playoffs (12 points). They made 5 of 23 shots and missed all 10 of their 3-pointers in the quarter.

"We're really dangerous, especially if (Eric) Bledsoe is going downhill and is in attack mode. We're a totally different team." — Giannis Antetokounmpo

"They say the series starts when someone wins a game on the road, and we were able to do that," said Damian Lillard, who had a poor night shooting in Game 2. "So our goal is to just take it one game at a time and protect our home floor. ... We have to be just as sharp, if not better, because you know they are going to come back better."

BUCKS AT CELTICS

Series tied 1-1. Game 3, 7 p.m. Friday, ESPN.

NEED TO KNOW: The Bucks bounced back after losing Game 1 to even the series. Games 3 and 4 are in Boston, where the Celtics are 12-1 during the last two postseasons.

INJURY WATCH: Milwaukee could get a boost in Game 3 with Malcolm Brogdon possibly available for the first time since mid-March, when he suffered a plantar fascia tear in his right foot. Celtics guard Marcus Smart continued to do some shooting and mobility drills in practice Thursday as he recovers from a partial tear to his left oblique.

KEEP AN EYE ON: Milwaukee got huge nights in Game 3 from Antetokounmpo and Middleton, who made seven of the Bucks' franchise playoff-high 20 3-pointers. Boston is allowing an average of 82.5 points per game this postseason at home.

PRESSURE IS ON: The Bucks' supporting cast. Antetokounmpo had help in Game 2 and it allowed him to play freer on offense, without expending a great deal of energy. That must continue over the next two games for Milwaukee to be able to take back home court.