Celtics clinch top seed in Eastern Conference with victory over Bucks in regular-season finale
|04.12.17 at 11:58 pm ET|
Say hello to the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.
It took a while on Wednesday, but once the Celtics got rolling, the Milwaukee Bucks B team had no chance.
With the top seed in the conference improbably on the line and the Bucks resting most of their starters, the Celtics closed the game with a 25-6 run to win a 112-94 blowout and clinch home-court advantage until the NBA Finals.
High-flying reserve Gerald Green led the Celtics with 18 points, including a pair of thunderous dunks, and Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson scored 16 apiece.
The Celtics began the night needing either a win or a Cleveland loss to clinch the regular-season conference championship. While the Cavs lost against Toronto, the Celtics (53-29) chose not to back into anything, winning the game and the top seed going away.
“I think there’s a pride in being consistent, and I told the guys that,” said head coach Brad Stevens. “I thought that they’d been really consistent throughout the whole year with the way that they’ve gone about their preparation and competed on a night-to-night basis. It’s not always easy throughout an 82-game schedule to be at your very best, but these guys are very consistent in their prep and the way they compete. So that’s a real positive but now – we’ll talk about what was accomplished later. We’ll focus on whenever we play this weekend, to get ready.”
The Celtics trailed by 11 after one and by as many as 13 in the second quarter before Isaiah Thomas (13 points, 8 assists) scored 10 points in a two-minute stretch to end the first half with the Celtics up 57-56.
The C’s then pulled away with their game-ending blitz, spearheaded by the defense of Marcus Smart and Green’s hot hand.
“I always expected to be the number one team coming out of the East,” said guard Avery Bradley, who injured a finger in the second half but returned to action. “I always expect for us to be better than what people think we’re going to be. The type of guys we have, the coaches, I know the amount of work we put in, the work our coaching staff puts in. I always have high expectations for this team.”
The C’s and Bulls split their four matchups during the regular season. The series marks a reunion with former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo.
“It’s going to be cool, it’s going to be a fun atmosphere for both teams,” Bradley said. “It’s weird playing against him on the other side, but playoff time is when he really brings it. It should be a fun series.”
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