BOSTON (AP) Terry Rozier and Eric Bledsoe spent seven times talking through the media and pretending they did not know each other.
When it was over, they hugged each other quickly – and smiled.
"Respect," Rozier said after scoring 26 points in Game 7 against Bledsoe's Bucks on Saturday night to help the Celtics beat Milwaukee 112-96 and advance to the semi-finals of the Eastern Conference.  Article below …
"You have two guys who want to win, two chippy guys, two short point guards," Rozier said. "We were just out there having fun, and when it's necessary for us to go back and forth, to torture ourselves, to bump into each other, that's just part of the game." We talked after the game, no stuff. "
Rozier added nine assists, Al Horford scored 26 points and eight rebounds, and even Giannis Antetokounmpo tipped into a basket for the Celtics, who will hit the Philadelphia 76ers in the second round.
"We have to play great," said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who was already eliminated without Gordon Heyward and Kyrie Irving, as Jaylen Brown went Saturday's game with a thigh injury. Somebody else has to get up and play great, but we'll get ready. "
Khris Middleton scored 32, Bledsoe 23 and Antetokounmpo had 22 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks. Milwaukee has risen only once since 1989 from the first round of the playoffs and lost nine direct playoff series since Ray Allen, Glenn Robinson and Sam Cassell in 2001 brought George Karl to the Eastern Conference.
Jayson Tatum added 20 points Celtics, who had the home advantage to win all four games in Boston.
"Was not able to win on the road, but we pushed the series to Game 7," said Antetokounmpo. "Many of the guys in the locker room have never been in Game 7s before, it's a new experience, now we know what it takes to win a game 7. You have to come out and strike first."
In their NBA Record 31st Game 7, the Celtics improved at home to 20-4 and 23-8 overall in best-of-seven clinchers. It was the second game 7 at TD Garden this week, with the Boston Bruins beating the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday night to move forward in the NHL playoffs.
"It's more than you can imagine, just a great feeling," Horford said. "Our fans have given us that energy, which is why they work so hard during the regular season to gain a home advantage."
BLEDSOE AND BLEDSOE
When he was in Louisville, Rozier was compared to Bledsoe, Kentucky had left a few years ago. But they did their best to develop a friendly hate during the series.
It all began when Rozier described his Bucks counterpart as "Drew Bledsoe" – confusing him with the former New England Patriots quarterback. Since then, Bledsoe has pretended he does not know who Rozier is.
Celtics fans agreed by saying in the first half, "Who is Bledsoe!" Chant. And during a break in the fourth quarter, the scoreboard displayed a video of Drew Bledsoe holding up one of his Patriots jerseys and posing as "the original Bledsoe."
"Man, that was special," said Rozier. "I do not know who thought of it, but that was nice."
FIRST HALF RUNNING
Tatum had nine points in the first, as the Celtics scored 15 consecutive points – including a tip from Antetokounmpo in the Boston Tire – and 20 of the last 22 to round the quarter off with a lead of 30-17 to finish. Milwaukee scored eleven goals at the start of the second half, making a two-point play, but Boston responded with nine goals to reach 41:30.
The Celtics led 50-42 in half, although they went 1-for-12 out of 3-point area. Horford had 14 points and seven rebounds on the break, and Bledsoe had 12 points for the Bucks. But both Antetokounmpo and Bledsoe had three fouls at halftime.
Milwaukee reduced the gap too early to three points, but Boston scored 11 of the last 15 points in the quarter. The Bucks never reached the single-digit value in the fourth.
Jaylen Brown hobbled into the locker room late in the second quarter and came out just before the start of the second half to test his right hamstring. But he left the ground and went back into the tunnel; After a few minutes on the exercise bike and checked out in the locker room, the team said he could return, but he did not.
"I was told that he could play when we were in need." Stevens said. "I decided that would not happen, with Hamstrings – let's see how he feels tomorrow."
Brown said that a Grade 1 sprain had been diagnosed. He will have an MRI tomorrow.
"Whatever it takes, I would not miss this series for the world," he said, vowing to be back for Game 1. "That's my goal."
Bucks: Have in the playoff series a 0-18 record what they lost the first two games. They are 2-8 in game 7s. … Bledsoe made a technical foul in the first quarter after complaining about a foul call. … C John Henson missed his fifth game in a row with a back problem. …
Celtics: Hayward, Irving and Daniel Theis were all at play. Theis, who has been out since March 11th, recovered enough from surgery on his left knee to drop his crutches for the first time on Friday. … also in the crowd: Red Sox owner John Henry and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. … Red Sox manager Alex Cora and a group of players have also settled into two luxury suites after the end of their game. … Boston was 4-for-5 by 3-point area in the third. … Rozier's 26 points were a career playoff high. … scored 60 points in the color
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