Bucks vs. Celtics score, conclusions: Milwaukee returns in the fourth quarter and steals Game 5 vs. Boston

Bucks vs. Celtics score, conclusions: Milwaukee returns in the fourth quarter and steals Game 5 vs. Boston

The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from a spot in the Eastern Conference Finals after making a fourth-quarter comeback against the Boston Celtics at the TD Garden in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series on Wednesday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo was a fantastic player for Milwaukee all night long, finishing with a game-high 40 points along with 11 rebounds and three assists, while Jrue Holiday made several clutches at both ends of the floor en route to victory. 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

With this win, Milwaukee has the opportunity to close out Boston at the Fiserv Forum Friday night in Game 6 as they look to defend their NBA championship last season.

Here are three key takeaways from the game:

1. Bucks’ total miracle comeback

The Bucks should have lost on Wednesday night, and 99 times out of 100 they would have lost, given the circumstances. Instead, they made up for a 14-point gap with good shots, dominant offensive play and a bit of luck.

Early in the frame, with the Celtics threatening to leave, the Bucks hit three 3s in two minutes to stay put. Skip them and we’re potentially talking about a 20-point Celtics win. Instead, the Bucks were able to stay. Later, Giannis Antetokounpo and Jrue Holiday scored 3rd in a row in the final minutes to equalize 105-105. All in all, the Bucks came out of downtown 6-of-6 in the fourth quarter. For a team that had struggled to hit the ball throughout the series, it was the perfect moment to find their shot.

Giannis’ powerful three at the end of the fourth round came from offensive rebounding, which was another key to a comeback. The Celtics’ elite defense choked the Bucks throughout the series, and it happened again in the fourth quarter – at least on the first hit. But the Bucks were able to break the glass and create additional possessions. Eight of the Bucks’ whopping 17 offensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter, and nine of their 20 second-chance points came in a frame.

Of course, without luck in the fourth quarter you won’t come back with a double-digit number. With 14.2 seconds left, Giannis entered the home stretch and the Bucks were two behind. He hit the first free throw but missed the second badly. Somehow, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown collided and neither of them was able to catch the rebound, which landed right on Bobby Portis, who made the game-winning shot.

2. Holiday makes a defense statement

Marcus Smart was named Defensive Player of the Year this season, the first defensive player to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996. However, it can be argued that he is not even the best defender in this series. Jrue Holiday definitely thinks so, and he tried to prove it in Game 5.

With Portis giving the Bucks the lead with 11.4 seconds left, the Celtics still had a chance to win the game, or at least take the lead again. The ball went out to Smart, who saw a short gap and tried to hit straight into the basket. Pat Connaughton was able to cut it off, which forced Smart to realign and gave Holiday time to fly in and score a shot. Even more impressive was that Holiday recovered the lost ball and dropped it off Smart.

Even then, the game was not over. Connaughton made two free throws, but the Celtics only lost three and still had an opportunity to tie the game. They didn’t even have a shot as Holiday cut Smart nearly halfway through to secure the win.

It was because of this game that the Bucks traded for Holiday before last season. He hasn’t always been consistent on offense, but he’s a game-changer on defense, as he reminded everyone on Wednesday.

3. The Celtics return to offense early in the season

There were many reasons for the collapse of the Celtics, some of which have been detailed above. But while the Bucks are to be commended for their game, the Boston certainly helped them with a disappointing offensive approach all along the way.

With five minutes left in the game, Jason Tatum hit a mid-range shot and the Celtics went up 101–95. Since then, they have only scored six points and have made 2-of-8 field goals. Sometimes you miss, but for Boston it was not a problem. Rather, they resorted to the methodical and predictable late-game attacks that plagued them at the start of the season.

Here are their strikes in the last five minutes:

  • Jaylen Brown, middle distance runner: miss
  • Simple Al Horford: Blocked
  • Jason Tatum: middle distance turnaround jumper: make
  • Jason Tatum in mid-range swim jumper: slip
  • Jaylen Brown Suspenders Mid-Length Jumper: Slip
  • Al Horford Dunk: Do it
  • Jason Tatum in mid-range swim jumper: slip
  • Marcus Smart Mileage: Locked

The Celtics turned things around this season — and had their biggest success this series — when they started moving the ball, hitting the defense in the teeth and switching teams. They didn’t do any of that in the last few minutes and paid the price.

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