By Brian Foley Special to OnMilwaukee Published Apr 29, 2019 at 4:06 PM Photography: Dan Garcia

"A Game 1 loss does make cowards of us all," Shakespeare wrote in "Hamlet" around the turn of the 17th century.

Or at least something to that effect.

On Sunday, Milwaukee inauspiciously began its second-round series with the Celtics, as Boston punched the Bucks in the mouth from the opening tip, forcing Giannis Antetokounmpo into one of his worst performances of the year, and launching fans and media alike into varying states of mass hysteria.

Things certainly weren’t pretty in Game 1. Boston’s Al Horford looked like the only two-way, MVP-caliber superstar on the floor, dropping 20 points on 3-5 shooting from deep on one end while putting Antetokounmpo in a vice grip on the other. The Bucks’ backcourt – coming off an excellent series in round one – was absolutely dreadful, as Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton, Eric Bledsoe and Sterling Brown combined to shoot just 9-34 from the field.

Brook Lopez, perhaps the best free agent signing the offseason, was essentially non-existent en route to three points and three rebounds. Kyrie Irving was composed. Gordon Hayward looked rejuvenated.

If the 22-point margin of defeat seemed bad enough, it probably should have been even worse had Milwaukee not battled back from a double-digit second-quarter deficit thanks to a run from its bench mob. Antetokounmpo finished with a team-worst minus-24 plus/minus mark, the second lowest figure of his season and tenth worst of his career.

The team that finished with the best record in the league and top-three marks in both offensive and defensive efficiency was thoroughly outclassed for 48 minutes on its home floor. Obviously not great, Bob.

But Sunday’s performance was so bad that it almost doesn’t matter (notice I said almost). Milwaukee will be hard-pressed to play that poorly again.

I have a hard time believing this Celtics’ frontcourt has suddenly turned into the official Giannis antedote. Prior to this series, Antetokounmpo had averaged an efficient 29/10/6 against Boston over the previous 14 meetings, including last year’s playoff series. Sunday felt like one bad game more than a sign that Brad Stevens has unearthed some sort of Giannis kryptonite code.

Milwaukee is going to need Bledsoe to be more assertive and Middleton to find the groove that has haunted Boston before. But the Bucks will also not shoot 35 percent from the field again, while the Celtics hit a barrage of contested jumpers. The C’s lived in the mid-range in Game 1, nailing 16-25 two-pointers from the 12-foot mark stretching out to just short of the three-point line. Milwaukee wants to surrender those shots, and while Boston is one of the few teams comfortable operating out of the supposed dead zone, expect those otherworldly shooting numbers to dip throughout the rest of the series.

Game 1 overreactions are a time-honored hoops tradition, but in this instance, it seems as if one team came ready to play and hit a bunch of tough shots while the other muddled through a sloppy effort after nearly a weeklong layoff. Don’t be surprised if the shoe is on the other foot in Game 2.

Suffering a 22-point playoff smack down at home at the hands of a budding rival who already knocked you out of the postseason just one year ago is certainly not an ideal way to open the series. But rather than channel your best Paul Pierce impression (the Celtics-star-turned-ESPN-commentator has already declared this series "over"), remain rational ahead of Tuesday night’s meeting. Giannis is still the best player in this series, and Malcolm Brogdon could return from a foot injury this week.

If the Bucks get boat-raced again at home, then feel free to freak out to your heart’s desire. For now, though, grab your green, have some faith and get loud for Game 2.

Brian Foley Special to OnMilwaukee
Brian Foley is a Maryland native, but has quickly established roots in Milwaukee after graduating from Marquette University in May 2017 with a bachelor's degree in digital media. He has interned for several media organizations in the area, including TMJ4-TV, WTMJ Newsradio and ESPN Milwaukee, and continues to contribute to FanSided's national network of sites.

When Brian's not writing about sports, he is probably prattling on about Marquette hoops, digging through statistics, or re-binging his favorite television series. Any conversation that begins with a quote from "The Office" or "West Wing" is a surefire way to grab his attention.