Baynes injury sours Celtics’ crushing upset
The Boston Celtics have crushed the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks in game one of their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series, but the victory was tarnished by a potential injury to Australian big man Aron Baynes.
The Celtics beat the Bucks 112-90 in front of a sombre Milwaukee crowd on Sunday.
Baynes played a significant role in taming the Bucks' NBA MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo early, with the Greek star held to just eight points in the first half while the Queenslander and Celtics forward Al Horford took turns guarding him.
Antetokounmpo ended with 22 points and eight rebounds.
The fourth-seeded Celtics were able to restrict the usually rampaging Milwaukee's fast breaks and points in the paint.
Baynes hobbled off the court late in the third-quarter after appearing to twist an ankle while fighting for a rebound.
Baynes, who came off the bench for four points, has had a tough season missing 31 games with a broken hand and hamstring, foot and ankle injuries.
The Celtics' Melbourne-born All-Star Kyrie Irving led the way with 26 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists and Horford had 20 points and 11 rebounds.
"That was a great start to a series," Irving said.
"We wanted to come out and make a statement for ourselves and play Giannis tough."
The Celtics, seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference against the club with the NBA's best record at 60-22, shot 54 per cent against the league's toughest defensive squad.
Boston unleashed a 32-9 run in the third quarter, Horford scoring 11 in the spurt, to seize an 86-65 lead.
While the host Bucks made one unsuccessful run early in the fourth quarter, they never threatened to erase that lead as they had done with a 15-point deficit in the first half.
"Just coming out playing very aggressive, playing poised, understanding they are very tough to beat on their home floor," Irving said when asked about the key to Boston's success.
"It's our preparation, our focus and being there for one another. This is the time you show why you go through the ups and downs of the regular season."
The Bucks, the NBA's third-best scoring club, shot only 34.8 per cent for the game.
Antetokounmpo went 7-for-21 from the floor but was denied inside position by Boston's varied defensive schemes.
The Greek star's teammates could not step up and offset his lost production when asked by the Celtics, who dropped two of three regular-season meetings with Milwaukee.