Bucks' late comeback against Celtics falls just short, 2 key players stand out

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

Everyone on both sides was anticipating Wednesday's matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics from the moment it was announced.

Both teams have gotten off to hot starts this season, and this matchup would be a good test for both sides. Yet, for most of the contest, things were pretty one-sided, as the Celtics immediately jumped out to a 10-point lead and built it to as large as 21. The Bucks looked lost on both sides of the ball for 36 minutes, essentially, as they made a handful of mistakes throughout.

When the fourth quarter began, the Bucks finally started to put the pieces together, especially late. Damian Lillard and Khris Middleton hit some timely shots down the stretch to pull Milwaukee within four points with less than 25 seconds left. However, a missed dunk by Lillard sealed the Bucks' fate, and the Celtics left the court victorious with a final score of 119-116.

Given that the Bucks managed to make things competitive after trailing by more than 20, the loss was easier to stomach, but it was still tough. Though the Bucks showed heart and grit in the clutch, they lacked both of those things for the first 40 or so minutes. Let's look at how things transpired and what the Bucks can learn from the loss.

Bucks' late comeback against Celtics falls just short, 2 key players stand out

In a game where the Bucks mostly struggled, two key players who showed positive signs throughout were Brook Lopez and Andre Jackson Jr.

Lopez clocked in his best effort of the season, having finished with 28 points on 12-of-18 shooting in 33 and a half minutes. With most of the Bucks unable to hit a shot, Lopez did everything he could at the rim to put points on the board. He hasn't been shooting the ball particularly well this season, so it was great to see him finally get it going with a strong outing.

Jackson didn't play much, having tallied just under eight minutes, but his impact was felt immediately after checking in. The rookie quickly had a putback dunk and 3-point basket while playing some nice defense to give a depleted Bucks team some life. He finished with seven points, which was more than any other reserve - three of the four other reserves played over 20 minutes.

He needs to be in the team's rotation, especially with Jae Crowder sidelined due to a procedure.

Aside from these two, things weren't pretty. The Bucks got off to a horrendous start, having trailed by 10 immediately, as mentioned. Slow starts have been a glaring issue for Milwaukee all season, and this game highlighted just how much those opening few minutes can hurt this team in the long run. They need to figure out how to get the wheels turning quicker right out of the gates.

A big reason for the sluggish start was the play of the Big 3. Damian Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Khris Middleton combined to shoot 3-of-19 in the opening period. That's just flat-out horrendous for a trio like Milwaukee has. They were taking some questionable shots, and when they did get a nice look, they oftentimes just whiffed on it and missed. It was uncharacteristic.

Though they started hitting some shots late, it was too late. These three need to set the tone early on and help eradicate these slow starts.

Ultimately, it's a tough loss against a formidable foe, but all one can hope for is that this is a matchup the Bucks can learn from and build off of. There are still a lot of games left to be played, and perhaps Milwaukee could use it to get better.

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