Al Horford and Jaylen Brown hit 3-pointers in a 12-point, third-quarter flurry Sunday afternoon that erased a momentary deficit and propelled the visiting Boston Celtics to a 112-90 victory over the top-seeded Milwaukee Bucks in the opener of their Eastern Conference best-of-seven semifinal playoff series.
After beating the Bucks just once in three tries in the regular season, the fourth-seeded Celtics will look to go up 2-0 when the clubs tangle again in Milwaukee on Tuesday night.
The Celtics led most of the game, but found themselves down 56-54 after Robin Lopez nailed a 3-pointer in the second minute of the third quarter.
Boston responded with its 12-0 run, which Horford capped with his 3-pointer for a 66-56 lead with 7:37 left in the period.
The Celtics went on to lead by as many as 19 in the quarter, and gradually pulled away in the final quarter after the Bucks rallied within 12.
Milwaukee's comeback effort was handcuffed by the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo shot just 7-for-21 in the game. He nonetheless managed to lead the Bucks in scoring with 22 points.
Kyrie Irving was the game's top scorer with 26 points, completing a double-double with a game-high 11 assists for the Celtics, who swept Indiana in the first round.
Horford made three 3-pointers to account for almost half his 20 points, while Brown finished with 19, Gordon Hayward 13 and Terry Rozier 11.
The Celtics outshot the Bucks 54.0 percent to 34.8.
Horford also had a double-double for Boston, grabbing a game-high 11 rebounds.
Khris Middleton registered a 16-point, 10-rebound double-double for the Bucks, who were held under 100 points just five times during the regular season before scoring 119 or more in all four games of their first-round sweep over Detroit.
The 22-point margin of defeat was Milwaukee's largest of the season.
Nikola Mirotic was a third scorer in double figures for the Bucks with 13 points.
Milwaukee's best stretch of the game came just past the midpoint of the second quarter, after it had fallen behind 40-25.
Mirotic had a pair of 3-pointers in a 15-0 run that drew the Bucks even, although the Celtics were able to reclaim a 52-50 lead by halftime.
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