Bucks score vs. Celtics takeaway: Milwaukee nails fourth-quarter comeback to steal Game 5 vs. Boston

Bucks score vs. Celtics takeaway: Milwaukee nails fourth-quarter comeback to steal Game 5 vs. Boston

The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals after pulling off a fourth-quarter comeback against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden in Game 5 of their best-of-seven series on Wednesday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo was fantastic for Milwaukee all night, finishing the win with a game-high 40 points to go along with 11 rebounds and three assists while Jrue Holiday made a number of clutch plays at both ends of the floor on his way to a performance of 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

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

Here are three key points of the game:

1. The miraculous return of the Bucks

The Bucks should have lost Wednesday night, and 99 times out of 100 they would have done under the circumstances. Instead, they overturned a 14-point deficit with big shots, a dominant performance on the offensive glass and a bit of luck.

Early in the frame, as the Celtics threatened to pull out, the Bucks knocked down three 3-pointers in two minutes to stay tied. Miss them and we’re potentially talking a 20-point Celtics win. Instead, the Bucks were able to hang out. Later, Giannis Antetokounpo and Jrue Holiday hit straight 3s in the final minutes to tie the game at 105-105. Overall, the Bucks went a perfect 6-for-6 from downtown in the fourth quarter. For a team that struggled to shoot the ball all series, it was the perfect time to find their shot.

Giannis’ massive hat-trick late in the fourth came from an offensive rebound, which was another key to the comeback. The Celtics’ elite defense snuffed out all of the Bucks’ streaks, and did it again in the fourth quarter — at least on the initial hit. But the Bucks managed to break the glass and create additional possessions. Eight of the Bucks’ 17 offensive rebounds came in the fourth quarter, and nine of their 20 second-chance points came in the frame.

Of course, you don’t make a double-digit fourth-quarter comeback without a bit of luck. With 14.2 seconds remaining, Giannis went to the line with the Bucks trailing by two. He made the first free throw, but missed the second badly. Somehow, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown collided and neither could grab the rebound, which went straight to Bobby Portis for the winning layup.

2. Holiday makes a statement on the defense

Marcus Smart was named Defensive Player of the Year this season, becoming the first guard to win the award since Gary Payton in 1996. You could argue, though, that he’s not even the best defensive guard in this series. Jrue Holiday is certainly convinced of this, and he tried to prove it throughout Game 5.

After Portis put the Bucks ahead with 11.4 seconds left, the Celtics still had a chance to win the game or at least get back in front. The ball went inbounds for Smart, who saw a brief opening and tried to go straight for the basket. Pat Connaughton managed to cut it, which forced Smart to readjust and gave Holiday time to come steal and stuff the shot. Even more impressive, Holiday recovered the loose ball and returned it to Smart.

Even then, the game was not over. Connaughton had two free throws, but the Celtics trailed by just three and still had a chance to tie the game. They never even managed to shoot, as Holiday stripped Smart nearly half the field to secure the win.

Those kinds of plays are exactly why the Bucks traded for Holiday before last season. He hasn’t always been consistent on the offensive end, but he’s a complete game-changer on defense, as he reminded everyone on Wednesday.

3. Celtics return to early-season offense

There were many reasons for the Celtics’ collapse, a number of which have been detailed above. But while the Bucks deserve a ton of credit for making plays, Boston certainly helped them with a disappointing offensive approach down the straight.

With just over five minutes left, Jayson Tatum hit a midrange jumper to put the Celtics up 101-95. From then on, they scored just six runs and shot 2-for-8s from the field. Sometimes you miss shots, but that wasn’t the problem for Boston. Rather, they resorted to the methodical, predictable late-game offense that plagued them early in the season.

Here’s a look at their shots in the final five minutes:

  • Jaylen Brown mid-range runner: missed
  • Al Horford layup: Blocked
  • Mid-range Jayson Tatum turnaround sweater: make
  • Mid-range Jayson Tatum fadeaway sweater: missed
  • Jaylen Brown mid-range pull-up sweater: failed
  • Al Horford comeback dunk: do
  • Mid-range Jayson Tatum fadeaway sweater: missed
  • Marcus Smart Race Layup: Blocked

The Celtics turned things around this season – and had the most success this series – when they started moving the ball, getting into the teeth of defense and rotating teams. They did none of that in the last few minutes, and they paid the price.

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