C's Eager to Respond After Falling into 2-1 Hole vs. Bucks

BOSTON – Three wins in four games. That’s now the task at hand for the Boston Celtics after dropping a 123-116 contest to the Milwaukee Bucks Friday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at TD Garden.

It’s not easy being on the low end of a 2-1 series disadvantage, especially when facing the top team in the conference. But that’s how the cards have been dealt for the Celtics, and they plan on making the most out of what’s in their hand.

“That’s the only way you can look at it,” Al Horford said of remaining optimistic moving into Game 4. “We stole one over there. They came back here and obviously won tonight. We have to respond; we have to respond and win on Monday.”

Boston initially set the tone of the series by winning Game 1 in Milwaukee, but the Bucks have spent the last two games making adjustments and gaining momentum.

After a somewhat quiet Game 1, Giannis Antetokounmpo has suddenly, and unsurprisingly entered attack mode, as he has earned 40 trips to the free-throw line over the last two games. On top of that, the shooters around the Greek Freak have all begun hitting from their spots.

Milwaukee’s offense is tough to stop when it’s clicking on all cylinders like that, but the C’s believe there are ways to counter Milwaukee on the other end of the court. For one, they say they have to do a better job of combating Milwaukee's scrambling defense when they drive into the paint, as their drivers have been suffocated in the paint over the last two games.

“It's more than just me and Kyrie (Irving). It's almost everybody,” said Gordon Hayward. “That's what they do. They really suck in when people drive and meet you at the rim. Sometimes, it's two, three, four guys are around. They are doing a good job of flying out afterward and trying to scramble. That's where we just have to take advantage of that. We drive in, kick out. If the shot's not there, the second drive, the third drive, it's going to be there. If you get into the paint like that, you are going to have those opportunities.”

Irving added that he sees holes in Milwaukee’s defense, of which he and his teammates must take advantage of in Game 4.

“We just have to bring it to another level, being in the right spots, and really focusing on where we can take advantage on their defensive miscues,” said Boston’s All-Star point guard, who logged 29 points and six assists. “They turn their heads on plays where guys are driving to the basket. They still have that same frantic defense that made adjustments (after Game 1). Now we have to go back and watch film of instances in the game where we can control.”

Jaylen Brown says he’s looking forward to learning with his teammates in those upcoming film sessions and then taking that knowledge with them into Game 4 Monday night.

“We’ve got to take something away, whatever that is,” said the eager wing after notching 18 points and five rebounds. “We’ve got to take something away, so we’re looking forward to it, watching it, breathing it, coming back and responding.”

Despite facing a 2-1 deficit, Brown is not worried about where the Celtics stand. He told reporters after the game that they’ve got, “too many good players, too many dogs in this locker room,” to fold under the pressure of a series deficit.

“No pressure at all,” Brown confirmed. “We’ve got to come out and respond and play how we know we can play, and I think we’ve yet to see that for 48. Now, we’ve got to show it. So, it should be fun.”

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