The Bucks are one victory away from advancing to the Eastern Conference playoffs.
After a fourth-quarter rally against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series at TD Garden on Wednesday night, the Milwaukee Bucks are one victory away from a spot in the Eastern Conference finals. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a game-high 40 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists to lead Milwaukee to win, while Jrue Holiday made several big plays on both sides of the court down the extend on his way to a 24-point, eight-rebound, and eight-assist effort.
Milwaukee has a chance to finish off Boston in Game 6 at Fiserv Forum on Friday night to defend their NBA title from last season.
Three significant takeaways from the game are as follows:
- The Bucks’ remarkable comeback
The Bucks should have lost on Wednesday night, and given the conditions, they would have lost 99 times out of 100. Instead, they overcame a 14-point deficit due to clutch shooting, a solid offensive rebounding effort, and luck.
The Bucks hit three 3-pointers in two minutes early in the fourth quarter to remain within striking distance of the Celtics. The Celtics may win by as many as 20 points if they miss. The Bucks, on the other hand, were able to linger. Later, in the closing minutes, Giannis Antetokounpo and Jrue Holiday sank back-to-back 3s to tie the game at 105-105.
In the fourth quarter, the Bucks shot a perfect 6-for-6 from downtown. That was ideal for a team that struggled to hit the ball throughout the series to rediscover their shooting stroke.
Another essential to the comeback was Giannis’ big three late in the fourth quarter, which came off an offensive rebound. The Celtics’ great defense has suffocated the Bucks throughout the series, and it was doing it again in the fourth quarter — at least on the first shot. However, the Bucks could shatter the glass and gain other possessions. The Bucks grabbed eight of their 17 offensive rebounds in the fourth quarter and scored nine of their 20 second-chance points.
Of course, a double-digit comeback in the fourth quarter doesn’t happen by accident. Giannis stepped to the line with 14.2 seconds left, and the Bucks lost by two. He hit the first free shot but completely missed the second. Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown collided, and none of them could retrieve the rebound, which fell to Bobby Portis for the game-winning layup.
- Holiday delivers a defense statement
This season, Marcus was named Defensive Player of the Year, the first guard to do so since Gary Payton in 1996. You might argue that he isn’t even the series’ finest defensive guard. Jrue Holiday thinks so, and he attempted to show it in Game 5 down the stretch.
The Celtics had a chance to win the championship. Amusement or go back in front after Portis put the Bucks ahead with 11.4 seconds left.
Smart noticed an opportunity and attempted to go straight to the hoop after the ball bounds.
Pat Connaughton cut him off, forcing Smart to reposition himself and allowing Holiday to swoop in and stuff the shot. Holiday then collected the lost ball and lobbed it off Smart, which was even more remarkable.
Even yet, the game was far from done. Connaughton hit two free throws for the Celtics, who were only down by three points and still had a chance to tie the diversion. They didn’t get a shot off because Holiday snatched Smart around halfcourt to seal the victory.
These are the kinds of plays that prompted the Bucks to trade for Holiday before last season. He hasn’t always been steady, but he is a total game-changer on defense, as he reminded everyone on Wednesday.
- The Celtics go back to their early-season offense.
The Celtics’ demise had a lot of causes, some of which mentions. While the Bucks deserve a lot of credit for creating plays, Boston undoubtedly aided them with a poor offensive strategy.
Jayson Tatum scored a mid-range jumper with over five minutes left to put the Celtics ahead 101-95. They only scored six points after that and went 2-for-8 from the field. Sometimes you miss shots, but Boston didn’t have that problem. Instead, they returned to the systematic and predictable late-game attack that troubled them earlier.