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

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."


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.