Ford Keys to the Game: Bucks 56, Celtics 87

Ford Keys to the Game

Bucks 56, Celtics 87

Game Highlights

Photo of the Game

Evan Turner, Troy Murphy

Paul Pierce rises up to block Luc Mbah a Moute's shot attempt during the second quarter of Boston's blowout win.
Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty

Key Moment

It’s pretty atypical for a 31-point victory to have a key moment, but this wasn’t your typical game. The Boston Celtics crushed the Milwaukee Bucks in an 87-56 win Sunday night in the TD Garden, and that blowout victory rewrote a few entries in the Celtics’ record book, the last of which was achieved by the game's most key moment.

Boston’s suffocating defense limited Milwaukee to just nine points in the first quarter on 4-of-17 shooting from the field. Shooting wise, it only got worse for the Bucks in the second quarter, as they hit just four of their 18 attempts in the second stanza and totaled 13 points.

Those two quarters totaled just 22 points for the visitors in the first half, which set a new record for the lowest halftime score for any opponent against the Celtics in the team’s long and storied history. Prior to that 22-point half, the previous low was 25 points, which Boston previously limited two opponents to (New Jersey on April 14, 2006, and Rochester on Feb. 26, 1957).

When the second half picked up, everyone assumed Milwaukee’s shooting would as well, but that certainly wasn't the case.

The Celtics’ dominating defense continued in the third quarter as they opened up a commanding lead that eventually swelled to 26 points in the frame. Boston took a 60-38 lead into the final frame, and those 38 points by the Bucks were the lowest total that any opponent had ever scored against the C’s through three periods.

With this game well in hand and the Celtics playing their first contest of a five-games-in-seven-nights stretch, it was obvious that their starters weren’t going to touch the floor in the fourth period. To grab the all-time record for least amount of points allowed by the Celtics in the history of their franchise, the bench – which currently consists of almost all new players – would have to carry over the defensive intensity for an entire quarter.

For most of the quarter it seemed as if there would be just enough time for the Bucks to sidestep the dubious record that Milwaukee’s franchise actually already held. Milwaukee scored only 57 points against the Celtics on Feb. 27, 1955, in a game that was played in Providence, R.I..

Earl Barron, who just joined the Bucks this month and received his second 10-day contract on Friday, was the man who Milwaukee would have been able to thank for helping the team avoid breaking their own record. He scored eight straight points for the Bucks, including two and-ones in the paint, to bring their point total to 53 with 3:26 remaining in the game.

Jon Brockman added another three-point play to Milwaukee’s point total with 1:52 remaining, which means the Bucks had nearly two minutes to score just two points and avoid setting a new record. They missed jumpers on their next two trips down the floor, but then on their final possession of the game Keyon Dooling was fouled as he dribbled into the paint with 22 seconds remaining.

And so the stage was set: Dooling would head to the free-throw line with two chances to avoid history. If he made just one of the shots, his team would only tie the all-time record for least points scored against the Celtics in a single game. If he made both, he would have eliminated this Bucks team from the conversation entirely.

Luckily for us, Dooling must enjoy records.

He stepped to the line and bricked both of the free throws and in turn secured the Celtics’ most prolific defensive performance in team history. The Bucks finished the game with just 56 points and shot just 31.4 percent from the field.

So on a Sunday night in the Garden, we didn’t have a key moment that affected the outcome of the game, but we sure did witness a key moment that affected Boston’s history book.

Key Box Score Line

Since Nenad Krstic’s stranglehold on this section will not loosen – he had been in this section for the past three games and finished with 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds tonight – we’re going to acknowledge his performance here but bring in another Key Box Score Line to freshen the section up for a change. And boy, are we excited about who’s replacing him.

Troy Murphy has been struggling to find his way with the Celtics since he signed on with the team back on March 2. He hadn’t scored more than two points or grabbed more than four rebounds in his five games with the team and the most minutes he had logged in a contest were 15. He surpassed all of those numbers tonight.

Murphy came off the bench to score a season-high 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor and also pulled in seven boards. Doc Rivers left him on the floor for 17:22 of playing time and the power forward’s confidence continued to rise as every second ticked onto that total.

This was the performance Boston had been hoping to get out of the veteran big man who is certainly capable of making an impact for this team during its run toward a championship. He finally blew the lid off of the hoop tonight, and our guess is that with his confidence now restored, we might be seeing a lot more of this productivity from Murphy in the near future.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Milwaukee had only one player, Earl Barron, score in double-figures, while the Celtics had five.
  • Boston outrebounded Milwaukee 50-32.
  • Nenad Krstic scored 11 points and grabbed a game-high 14 rebounds.
  • Boston's 24 free throw attempts were more than the total number of field goals the Bucks made (22).
  • Boston's 19 made free throws were just three shy of Milwaukee's made field goal total of 22.
  • Four Celtics (Krstic, Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis and Troy Murphy) grabbed at least seven rebounds.
  • Boston, which leads the league in assists, totaled only 19 helpers tonight.
  • Carlos Arroyo outassisted Rajon Rondo by a count of 6-3.
  • Rondo and Ray Allen each grabbed three steals apiece.
  • Allen scored a game-high 17 points.
  • Murphy's 12 points and seven rebounds were both career highs with the Celtics.
  • Garnett and Paul Pierce each commited four turnovers apiece.
  • Every active player on Milwaukee's roster played in the game, and John Salmons, the team's starting shooting guard, was the only player who did not score at least two points. He went scoreless on the night.
  • Nine of Boston's 11 available players finished with plus/minus ratings of at least plus-nine.
  • Allen's 30 minutes of playing time were a game-high.

Quote of the Night

Milwaukee head coach Scott Skiles on tonight's game: "That’s about as humiliating a defeat as you’ll ever see. Right at the jump ball Rondo got right up into Brandon, they got right up into our guards, and they got us on our heels and took our competitive fight away from us. We pretty much just gave into it.”