October 22, 2018

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With Attitude and Home-Court Edge, Celtics Eliminate Bucks

With Attitude and Home-Court Edge, Celtics Eliminate Bucks
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Terry Rozier and Eric Bledsoe spent seven games trash-talking through the news media and pretending not to know each other’s names.

When it was over, they gave each other a quick hug — and a smile.

“Just respect,” Rozier said after scoring a career playoff high 26 points against Bledsoe’s Bucks on Saturday night, helping the Celtics beat Milwaukee, 112-96, in Game 7 of their first-round series and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for a second straight year.

“You’ve got two guys that want to win, two chippy guys, two short point guards,” Rozier said. “We were just out there having fun. If it takes for us to go back and forth, jawing back and forth to battle, push each other, that’s just part of the game.”

Rozier added nine assists, Al Horford had 26 points and 8 rebounds, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo tipped in a basket for the Celtics, who will meet Philadelphia in the second round. Game 1 is scheduled for Monday night in Boston.

“We’re going to have to play great,” said Celtics Coach Brad Stevens, who had already lost the would-be starters Gordon Heyward and Kyrie Irving when Jaylen Brown left Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury. “That’s just another thing. Somebody else is going to have to step up and play great. But we’ll get ready.”

Khris Middleton scored 32, Bledsoe had 23, and Antetokounmpo had 22 points and 9 rebounds for the Bucks. Milwaukee has advanced from the first round of the playoffs just once since 1989 and has lost nine straight playoff series since reaching the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.

Jayson Tatum added 20 points for the Celtics, who rode home-court advantage to win all four games that were played in Boston.

Playing in their N.B.A.-record 31st Game 7, the Celtics improved to 20-4 at home and 23-8 over all in best-of-seven clinchers.

“It’s more than you can imagine, just a great feeling,” Horford said. “Our fans really gave us that energy. This is why you work so hard in the regular season, to put yourself with home-court advantage.”

JAZZ LOSE RUBIO Point guard Ricky Rubio will miss Game 1 of Utah’s second-round Western Conference series with Houston on Sunday with a strained left hamstring. The injury caused Rubio to leave Friday’s game against Oklahoma City in the first quarter.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page SP5 of the New York edition with the headline: Using Home-Court Edge, Celtics Eliminate Bucks. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe



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