NBA playoffs wrap: Celtics beats Bucks to advance

Even with Jaylen Brown sidelined the entire second half by injury, Celtics overpowered Bucks to win Game 7. Next up: 76ers.

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) celebrates a basket with fans during the second quarter against Milwaukee Bucks in Boston on Saturday.   -  AP

Do not underestimate Boston Celtics, no matter how wounded it looks.

Despite losing yet another star player to injury — this time Jaylen Brown — Celtics somehow managed to turn an eight-point half-time lead on Saturday into an easy 112-96 victory over Bucks in Game 7.

Celtics advance to host 76ers in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinals matchup on Monday at 8 p.m. ET.

Brown, who had scored 20.5 points per game in the first six games of the series, limped to the locker room late in the first half. Although he returned to the bench after half-time, he didn't play in the second half. Celtics announced he had a sore right hamstring.

Yet even with Brown sidelined, Celtics looked unstoppable against a hungry Bucks team. With Al Horford (26 points) owning the paint and Terry Rozier (26 points, 5-of-8 from 3-point range) ripping the nets from outside, Celtics built a 19-point lead with five minutes remaining before coasting home. On the defensive end, Celtics completely shut down Bucks’ transition game.

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It’s enough to make anyone ponder just how good this team will be when stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward return next season.

Meanwhile, in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, Warriors powered its way to a 123-101 win over Pelicans, despite the absence of injured Stephen Curry, who was ruled out earlier in the evening.

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The two teams were tied at 39 early in the second quarter, but Warriors outscored Pelicans by 20 points in the second quarter to take a 76-55 lead into the locker room. Incredibly, things got even more lopsided in the second half, as Warriors built a 29-point lead after three quarters.

Even with Curry sidelined, Warriors just had too many players for Pelicans. Klay Thompson (27 points) and Kevin Durant (26) led six Warriors in double digits in scoring.

Game 2 is Tuesday in Oakland at 10:30 p.m.

Studs of the Night

Draymond Green collected his fourth career post-season triple-double (16 points, 15 rebounds, 11 assists), passing Tom Gola for most playoff triple-doubles in Warriors history.

Forward Jayson Tatum also had a huge game for Celtics, with 20 points, six rebounds and five assists. He also was a ridiculous plus-24, more than twice as many as any other Celtic.

Dud of the Night

Guard Jrue Holiday shot 4-of-14 from the field, picked up five fouls and scored 11 points in the Pelicans’ loss. After averaging 27.8 points per game in the Pelicans’ surprising sweep of Trail Blazers in the first round, he needs to do more if New Orleans wants any chance in this series.

Highlight

Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo look like they’ve done this alley-oop thing before.

 

What's Next

Pacers (3-3) at Cavaliers (3-3) 1 p.m. ET Sunday — There are some great storylines here. Cavs on the brink of elimination. Pacers looking to win its first playoff series since 2014. Is this LeBron James' final game in a Cavs uniform? Following that Game 7, Rockets hosts Jazz in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals at 3:30 p.m. ET.

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