Terry Rozier and Eric Bledsoe spent seven games trash-talking through the media and pretending not to know each other’s names.
When it was over Cheap Derwin James Jersey , they gave each other a quick hug – and a smile.
”Just respect,” Rozier said after scoring a career playoff high 26 points in Game 7 against Bledsoe’s Bucks on Saturday night to help the Celtics beat Milwaukee 112-96 and advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the 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. We talked after the game, no stuff.”
Rozier added nine assists, Al Horford had 26 points and eight rebounds, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo tipped in a basket for the Celtics, who will meet the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round.
Game 1 is in Boston on Monday night.
”We’re going to have to play great,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who was already without 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 Will Hernandez Game Jersey , Bledsoe had 23 and Antetokounmpo had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks. Milwaukee has advanced from the first round of the playoffs just once since 1989, losing nine straight playoff series since Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell brought George Karl to the Eastern Conference finals in 2001.
Jayson Tatum added 20 points for the Celtics, who rode the home-court advantage to win all four games in Boston.
”Wasn’t able to win on the road, but we pushed the series to Game 7,” Antetokounmpo said. ”A lot of the guys in the locker room have never been in Game 7s. It’s a new experience. Now we know now what it takes to win a Game 7. You’ve got to come out, hit first.”
Playing in their NBA-record 31st Game 7, the Celtics improved to 20-4 at home and 23-8 overall in best-of-seven clinchers. It was the second Game 7 at the TD Garden this week, with the Boston Bruins beating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night to advance in the NHL playoffs.
”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.”
BLEDSOE AND BLEDSOE
When he was at Louisville, Rozier was compared to Bledsoe, who had left Kentucky a few years earlier. But the two did their best to work up a friendly hatred during the series.
It started when Rozier referred to his Bucks counterpart as ”Drew Bledsoe” – confusing him with the former New England Patriots quarterback. Since then Vita Vea Jersey , Bledsoe has pretended he doesn’t know who Rozier is.
Celtics fans joined in by chanting ”Who is Bledsoe!” in the first half. And during a fourth-quarter break, the scoreboard showed a video of Drew Bledsoe holding up one of his Patriots jerseys and proclaiming himself ”the original Bledsoe.”
”Man, that was special,” Rozier said. ”I don’t know who thought of that, but that was nice.”
FIRST HALF RUNS
Tatum had nine points in the first, when the Celtics scored 15 straight points – including a tip-in by Antetokounmpo into the Boston hoop – and 20 of the last 22 to end the quarter with a 30-17 lead. Milwaukee scored 11 in a row at the beginning of the second to make it a two-point game, but Boston answered with nine in a row to make it 41-30.
The Celtics led 50-42 at the half despite going 1-for-12 from 3-point range. Horford had 14 points and seven rebounds at the break, and Bledsoe had 12 points for the Bucks. But both Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe had three fouls at halftime.
Milwaukee cut the deficit to three points early in the third but Boston scored 11 of the last 15 points in the quarter. The Bucks never got within single digits in the fourth.
Jaylen Brown limped off to the locker room late in the second quarter, then came out to test his sore right hamstring just before the start of the second half. But he left the floor and went back into the tunnel; after riding the stationary bike for a few minutes and getting checked out in the locker room, the team said he was available to return, but he did not.
”I was told that if we got in a pinch he could play,” Stevens said. ”I decided that’s not going to happen. With hamstrings – let’s see how he feels tomorrow.”
Brown said it was diagnosed as a Grade 1 sprain. He will have an MRI tomorrow.
”Whatever it takes. I wouldn’t miss this series for the world,” he said, vowing to be back for Game 1. ”That’s my goal.”
Bucks: Have an 0-18 record in playoff series in which they’ve lost the first two games. They are 2-8 in Game 7s. … Bledsoe picked up a technical foul in the first quarter after complaining about a foul call. … C John Henson missed his fifth straight game with a sore back. … Scored zero points on fast breaks.
Celtics: Hayward Cheap Frank Ragnow Jersey , Irving and Daniel Theis were all at the game. Theis, who has been out since March 11, recovered enough from left knee surgery to ditch his crutches for the first time on Friday. … Also in the crowd: Red Sox owner John Henry and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. … Red Sox manage Michael Floyd made it clear that he’s looking for a fresh start to what’s left of his once-promising NFL career.
So the St. Paul, Minnesota, native, who floundered with his hometown Vikings last season, is now working on the opposite end the Mississippi River, trying to show Sean Payton and Co. why the New Orleans Saints were right to give him a look.
”I think I still have a lot to offer. I’m only 28,” the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Floyd said Thursday, after his second practice with the Saints on Thursday. ”I don’t think I’m too old.”
Saints coach Sean Payton described the signing as relatively low risk this early in camp, when rosters are at 90 players and the club has about a month to evaluate players before trimming its roster to the regular season maximum of 53.
”I think I know what he can be,” Payton said. ”That’s the cool thing about coaching, is when you get somebody and you feel like you can make a difference.”
Receivers coach Curtis Johnson added that the Saints’ style of offense ”allows guys like him to be productive Josh Allen Jersey ,” whether it be blocking on the edge for the Saints’ strong running game or rising up in the end zone for a Drew Brees fade pass.
”He’s a very physical player. I thought he caught the ball well today,” Johnson said. ”So, his size and his speed can really help us.”
Floyd was a prominent receiver for Arizona early in his career. He had 1,041 yards and five touchdowns receiving in 2013 and no fewer than 841 yards in each of the two seasons after that. But his production – and the arc of his career – dipped considerably in 2016, a season marred by a drunken driving arrest and late-season release from the Cardinals.
New England snapped him up en route to a Super Bowl triumph that season, but Floyd’s contributions to the Patriots’ success were limited at best. In two regular season games, he caught four passes, including a 14-yard TD. He had one catch in New England’s playoff opener -when he also had an interception bounce off his hands – and was scratched for the AFC title game and Super Bowl.
Last season, Floyd played in 11 games for the Vikings after serving a four-game suspension by the NFL for using a banned substance. He finished the regular season with only 10 catches for 78 yards.
In free agency, Floyd was not heavily sought after. He had a tryout with Baltimore but remained unsigned when training camps opened. He signed this week with New Orleans, which was looking to add receivers because of injuries to three young players at that position.
A handful of other teams had offered tryouts, but Floyd and his agent, Brian Murphy of Athletes First, decided to be selective about accepting such invitations.
”What we learned last year in Minnesota is that what appears to be good fit on the surface might not necessarily end up being ideal Authentic Vontaze Burfict Jersey , and it’s nobody’s fault,” Murphy told The Associated Press by phone. ”We were very careful this year to pinpoint teams where we were confident Michael would have an opportunity to contribute.”
Floyd said it was important to him to join a team with players he knew. The Saints roster includes linebacker Manti Teo, Floyd’s former college teammate at Notre Dame. Floyd also was already acquainted with Saints running back Shane Vereen and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, who also are represented by Athletes First.
”There’s a lot of things that come into play when you’re choosing to be on a team,” Floyd said. ”I chose Minnesota last year just because I know a whole bunch of guys on the team and I knew what they’re about. And playing with (Vikings tight end) Kyle Rudolph in college, it’s something that I think, in my life, that I wanted to be around guys that were close to me.”
Why didn’t his stint with the Vikings work out? It appeared Floyd preferred not to express any opinion about that when he smiled wryly and said, ”I have no idea.”
In New Orleans, Floyd said he sees ”a great team, a great coach and guys that I’ve been knowing for a decade. It’s always good to go on a team and have guys that you already know. It makes a lot of things more smooth.”
Floyd also alluded to what he hopes will be a blossoming relationship with the prolific Brees.
”Having a (projected) Hall of Fame quarterback throwing you the ball – I think that makes a big difference,” Floyd said.
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