Basketball: Top-seed Boston book Bulls contest

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas goes to the basket around Bucks guard Gary Payton II (No. 0) during Boston's 112-94 win over Milwaukee. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 53-29 record, topping the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2007-0
Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas goes to the basket around Bucks guard Gary Payton II (No. 0) during Boston's 112-94 win over Milwaukee. The Celtics finished the regular season with a 53-29 record, topping the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2007-08. PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON • Brad Stevens knows the Boston Celtics do not play for National Basketball Association (NBA) play-off berths, Atlantic Division championships or even the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

They play to win championships.

Still, the Celtics coach appreciates those accomplishments.

"I think there's a pride in being consistent," he said after his team emerged with the No. 1 seed in the East following a 112-94 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday at the TD Garden.

"It's a real positive. We'll talk about what was accomplished later. We'll focus on whenever we play this weekend to get ready."

Gerald Green scored 18 points, Jae Crowder and Amir Johnson each had 16 points and Isaiah Thomas finished with 13 points and eight assists for Boston, who meet eighth-seeded Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

Game 1 is on Sunday in Boston.

The Celtics (53-29) entered Wednesday's game needing a win or a Cleveland Cavaliers loss to lock up the top seed.

The Cavaliers, who rested stars LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, were blown away by the Toronto Raptors 98-83 and finished with the No. 2 seed.

Cleveland and Toronto finished with identical 51-31 records, but the Cavs won the first three games of the regular season series, which is the tie-breaker.

Spencer Hawes and Michael Beasley each had 15 points for Milwaukee (42-40), who also rested most of their starters after securing the sixth seed in the East on Tuesday.

"We came out healthy, we got guys minutes that needed to get minutes and now we've got to get ready for the (post-season)," Bucks coach Jason Kidd said.

Rashad Vaughn had 14 points and Malcolm Brogdon added 11 for the Bucks, who will face the Raptors in the first round of the East play-offs.

The Celtics have finished top in the East for the first time since the 2007-08 season, when they won their league-best 17th title.

"It's very special to me. I've never been a No. 1 seed," said Thomas, who was picked last in the 2011 NBA Draft but finished third in the league in scoring this term with 28.9 points per game - behind Russell Westbrook and James Harden.

The Cavaliers, who knocked Toronto out of the conference finals last season, lost the last four games and will host the No. 7-seed Indiana Pacers tomorrow.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2017, with the headline 'Top-seed Boston book Bulls contest'. Print Edition | Subscribe