Jayson Tatum details Celtics' 'pissed off' Game 2 mindset without Marcus Smart

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Tatum details Celtics' 'pissed off' mindset without Smart in Game 2 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics were outplayed and outmuscled in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals ... and they took that personally.

Many expected the Celtics to shoot better against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 2 after laying an 89-point egg in Game 1. But with defensive leader Marcus Smart sidelined due to a right quad injury, it was worth wondering whether Boston could hang with Milwaukee physically.

The Celtics provided a definitive answer Tuesday night at TD Garden, holding the Bucks to 86 points in a 23-point victory that evened the best-of-seven series at 1-1.

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Celtics star Jayson Tatum admitted his team had plenty of motivation going into this one, and that they did their best to embody Smart's relentlessness in their own play.

"We were pissed off at how we played last game from top to bottom. We knew that we just had to play better. Simple as that," Tatum said after the game. " ... Everybody contributed and competed. We just picked up like if we had Smart, with toughness each possession."

That toughness showed up in the Celtics' defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who needed 27 shots to score 28 points and had just five points on 2-of-12 shooting in the first half. Grant Williams in particular stood his ground on the Bucks star, while Boston managed to out-rebound a bigger and longer Milwaukee squad 40-37.

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"We hadn’t been outmuscled like that (in Game 1) all year. Our guys take pride in that and took that to heart and game out with the right effort tonight," Celtics head coach Ime Udoka added.

"We talked about being 32-8 in the last 40 and not losing two games in a row and coming back with the proper effort. We expected our guys to respond the way they did tonight."

Jaylen Brown led the response offensively, following his abysmal Game 1 (12 points on 4-of-13 shooting) with a 30-point explosion in Game 2. His 17 first-quarter points -- a playoff career high -- helped Boston race out to an early double-digit lead.

"How you respond is everything," Brown said. "What you’re made of comes to light in those moments, so you got to see what the Celtics were about tonight. And I’m proud of our group, but we’ve got to get ready for the next one, because it’s going to be a dogfight."

While the Celtics played inspired basketball without Smart, they're still eager to get him back for Saturday's Game 3 in Milwaukee, as this is the type of series in which the hard-nosed guard should thrive.

"This series is gonna get real grimy and dirty and nasty," Brown added. "And we need Marcus to do what he does best."

Celtics-Bucks Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 p.m. ET. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live right here on NBC Sports Boston.