Giannis Antetokounmpo started the night with two quick early fouls. Coach Jason Kidd decided to stick with his star and it paid off. Antetokounmpo wouldn’t pick up a third foul until the second half, helping the Bucks knock off the Celtics 108-100 in Milwaukee’s season opener.
Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter and pulled down 13 rebounds. But the play that had the most impact came with less than a minute to go. With Giannis in the post, he drew a double team and found Matthew Dellavedova, who buried a three-pointer to put the Bucks up five points and pave the way for the victory.
The Bucks offense went silent in the third quarter as the Celtics used a 16-4 run to take a six point lead into the final quarter. But Antetokounmpo led the charge to draw even and eventually take the lead. He also helped the Bucks clamp down defensively on the Celtics, holding Boston without a field goal for nearly five minutes in the final minutes to build a seven point lead.
Malcolm Brogdon added 19 points and Khris Middleton and Dellavedova added 15 each in the victory.
The Bucks return home to host the Cleveland Cavaliers at the Bradley Center on Friday night. Cleveland beat Boston 102-99 on Wednesday night in the Cavaliers opener.
The Celtics lost their top player, Gordon Hayward in that contest with a broken ankle and fractured tibia. Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Hayward is expected to make a full recovery but could miss the entire season.