If tonight's contest is any indication, the old saying is true.
Good defense wins ballgames.
Behind a suffocating defensive performance, the Boston Celtics (3-3) rallied from a 12-point first quarter deficit to demolish the Milwaukee Bucks (4-4), 99-83, in the first game of a back-to-back sequence.
Forcing 18 turnovers on the night, the Celtics limited Milwaukee to a combined 35 points in the second and third quarters while riding an 18-2 run to close out the third quarter to a decisive victory over an up-and-coming Bucks squad.
The Boston reserves also played a critical role in catalyzing the team's victory, chipping in 50 points compared with the starter's 49.
Point guard Isaiah Thomas led the Celtics with 20 points and small forward Jae Crowder accounted for 12 points and four steals, improving on his league-leading steals per game average, while power forward Jared Sullinger steadied the starting cast with a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Off of the bench, shooting guard Evan Turner paced the Boston attack with a 13-point, six-assist, five-rebound, four-steal effort in 29 minutes of play, garnering an impressive plus-32 plus-minus rating. Power forward David Lee recorded 13 points and five rebounds while center Kelly Olynyk added 11 points and rookie shooting guard R.J. Hunter chipped in seven points.
For Milwaukee, center Greg Monroe led the way with 17 points and 14 rebounds while small forward Giannis Antetokounmpo contributed 16 points and two steals. Despite logging a game-high 37 minutes, Bucks shooting guard Khris Middleton struggled to connect from the field, converting on just three of his 12 attempts en route to a 13-point performance.
Milwaukee jumped out to an early 18-6 advantage, however, that lead quickly dissipated as the Celtics revved up the defensive pressure, going on an 18-6 run of their own to knot the score at 24-24 heading into the second quarter, the run led by an and-one finish and a deep three by Crowder.
Boston carried their momentum into the following quarter, with a barrage of three-pointers by Hunter, Thomas and Turner granting the team a 35-27 advantage four minutes in. Middleton led a Bucks surge with six points of his own, however, serving as a catalyst in the Celtics lead being trimmed to 46-42 at the half.
After a free throw by center Johnny O'Bryant with 4:16 remaining in the third quarter cut the Bucks deficit to a narrow 58-57, Boston's offensive firepower was simply unleashed. Beginning with a three-pointer by small forward Jonas Jerebko, the Celtics garnered 18 of the quarter's final 20 points, grasping an insurmountable 76-59 lead by the onset of the fourth quarter and cruising the rest of the way for their third victory of the season.