Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks hope to put together a more complete effort when they visit Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics on Friday night.
Milwaukee let a 24-point lead slip away versus New York on Wednesday night, but the Bucks still found a way to pull out a 112-100 win on the road against the Knicks.
Antetokounmpo assembled a near triple-double with 15 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists in a team-high 38 minutes. Pat Connaughton led all scorers with 23 points on a career-high seven 3-pointers to help keep the Bucks afloat.
“We kept our composure and that’s who we are and it feels good,” said Antetokounmpo, who had led the team in scoring in each of their last eight games and 10 of 12 overall.
Antetokounmpo recorded his eighth double-double of the young season despite matching his season low with 15 points against New York. Jrue Holiday added 18 points and Bobby Portis had 17.
“I think Giannis trusting his teammates, Jrue trusting his teammates and those guys having the confidence to let it fly is what we needed,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said.
The Bucks played without star Khris Middleton (missed last six games due to health and safety protocols) as well as center Brook Lopez, who has played in just one game while dealing with a back injury. Donte DiVincenzo remains out with a foot injury.
Milwaukee has won back-to-back games after dropping five of its prior six games.
Boston righted a wrong with a 104-88 home win against the Raptors on Wednesday after being blown out by Toronto in a 32-point defeat in the Celtics’ home opener.
Tatum led the charge with 22 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists while Dennis Schroder added 20 points for Boston, which had six players score in double figures.
The win was the Celtics’ first at home in four tries this season and came after guard Marcus Smart called out the team’s stars for a lack of passing following their last home game on Nov. 1 — a 128-114 letdown against the Bulls.
“We had a great game, it’s a great game,” said Smart, who finished with 13 points and six assists against Toronto. “We won, first home win so … it was much needed. Got another one on Friday to take care of.”
The win was the Celtics’ third in four games following an alarming 2-5 start.
“We’re learning the intensity and effort it takes to win every night,” first-year Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.
Boston won despite Tatum’s co-star Jaylen Brown missing his second straight game with a Grade 1 right hamstring strain. The forward is not expected to return against the Bucks, but said he could return sooner than the original one- to two-week timeline.
Celtics reserve Brodric Thomas also missed the game with a shoulder injury.
Boston and Milwaukee met three times one season ago, with the Celtics winning twice. Tatum averaged 27.3 points over the three games while Antetokounmpo averaged 21.3 in the season series.