The Milwaukee Bucks won Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, taking the lead of the series. Giannis Antetokounmpo was once again the guarantor of the 103:101 success, but co-star Jrue Holiday hit the decisive throw in a dramatic final phase.
With less than two minutes left, Jaylen Brown was 14 points behind and the visitors took the lead again for the first time since just after halftime, before Jrue Holiday and Giannis Antetokounmpo with two drives gave the Bucks a 3-point lead. Marcus Smart went to the line with 5 seconds left, intentionally missed the second try and grabbed the rebound, but Al Horford’s tip-in for possible extra time came just after the siren, allowing the hosts to survive.
Antetokounmpo delivered a monster game with 42 points (16/30 FG, 9/12 FT), 12 rebounds and 8 assists, Holiday (25, 11/30, 3 steals) was also outstanding despite weak odds. Pat Connaughton (11, 3/8 threes) hit two crucial long-range shots in the fourth quarter as the Bucks ran out of ideas and nearly relinquished the game.
Boston won the final section 34:23 and made it exciting again thanks to Jaylen Brown (27, 8/16, 12 rebounds) and Horford (22, 9/16, 16 rebounds, 5 assists). Jayson Tatum (10, 4/19, 3 assists), on the other hand, had a night to forget and was also unlucky in crunch time when he wanted to pull an offensive foul on Holiday’s decisive throw instead of making it as difficult as possible for the guard with his length close. Daniel Theis played 2:17 minutes in the third quarter, but had no influence whatsoever.
The Bucks started with a smaller lineup (Grayson Allen for Bobby Portis), but that didn’t change much defensively as Lopez started out strong at ringside. Boston got some open triples, but otherwise nothing was easy. The same was true for Milwaukee, but they also took some faster deals. Antetetokounmpo had collected 8 points, while Tatum hardly got anything. He struggled against the hosts’ drop coverage (22:19).
Antetokounmpo leads Bucks to winning ways
The three didn’t fall on either side, but Tatum made a small exclamation mark with a transition dunk over Giannis. However, the Greek dominated the first half with his drives, dunks and also a furious block against Tatum (it was probably goaltending). Otherwise, only Holiday and Lopez scored, Boston distributed it a little better, but also remained without a field goal for more than six minutes. Yet the visitors led 50-46 at the break as Boston pinned the third foul on Giannis and scored the last seven points of the quarter with the Finals MVP on the bench.
Milwaukee reacted, the first few minutes belonged to Antetokounmpo, who pranced through the zone and thus initiated a 20-6 run by the Bucks. The hosts were particularly successful in semi-transitions, mostly thanks to Giannis, who attacked immediately after defensive rebounds. Tatum continued to throw bricks diligently, the Celtics afforded 7 TO in the section. The break for Antetokounmpo could not be used either, instead the hosts extended their lead and took a cushion into the final quarter (80:67).
But Boston wasn’t beaten yet. Brown, who had been pale until then, quickly scored 7 points, Derrick White (14) hit a three-pointer. Within 4:30 minutes, the Celtics had scored more points than in the entire third quarter (18:17). The Bucks wobbled because Antetokounmpo was too infrequently found. Horford was the best man for the Celtics at this stage, both front and back. Brown put the Celtics back in front from the line with just under two minutes left before the Bucks survived in a wild crunch time thanks to Giannis and Holiday.
The most important statistics
Milwaukee Bucks (3) – Boston Celtics (2) 103:101 (BOXSCORE), Serie: 2-1
- As in the first two games, it was a battle of attrition. The guests only scored 33 percent from the field in the first half – and still led. It wasn’t because the three fell (just 4/18, MIL: 3/18), but because of the free throws. Boston took 17 freebies and gave the Bucks foul problems. Anteteokounmpo, Lopez and Allen each had three fouls and were on the bench at the end of the first half. The third foul on Giannis hurt the Bucks in particular, with Boston running 7-0 in the final 57 seconds of the period.
- In the second half, both teams scored a little better, but the three-pointer hardly fell (27 percent for the Celtics, 26 percent for the Bucks). The hosts scored 20 more points in the zone (52:32), while the Celtics took twice as many free throws (34:17) as the Bucks.
- The third quarter, on the other hand, was textbook Bucks basketball. The hosts forced the Celtics to lose seven turnovers, six of which were steals. But Milwaukee kept up the pace even after failed attempts by the guests and scored a whopping 18 points (BOS: 0) in transition. For comparison: The Celtics themselves only had 17 points in the entire quarter. Holiday (12) and Antetokounmpo (11) dismantled the guests in this phase with every trick in the book.
- For Antetokounmpo, it was the sixth 40-point game of his playoff career. Of all active players, only LeBron James (28), Kevin Durant (14), James Harden (9) and Russell Westbrook (7) have more. There have only been 10 other 40-point games in the Bucks’ history, three of which are credited to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
- For Tatum, it was the second-worst shooting performance of his postseason career. Only in 2019 did the forward hit worse (5 points, 2/10 FG), opponents were the Milwaukee Bucks at that time too. It was also the third game under 25 percent shooting for the 24-year-old, the opponent was always Milwaukee.
The star of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo
In the first two games, the Celtics had held the Greek off the field at 38 percent, this time they were powerless against the reigning Finals MVP’s brute force. Antetokounmpo got his shots quicker this time, repeatedly catching the Celtics unsorted for easy lays and dunks. Except for Horford, no one had any answers for the Greek that night.
The flop of the game: Jayson Tatum
A very difficult evening for the forward, who couldn’t cope at all with the Bucks’ adapted defense. Milwaukee could live with Tatum from the middle distance, especially since he didn’t hit any of them. There were also several hair-raising turnovers and strange decisions. The 24-year-old repeatedly refused a possible layup for a pass outside. His decision to flay an offensive foul against Holiday in the last Bucks attack was also not very glorious. Bright spot: 4 blocks.
The scene of the game
The end with the Horford tip, which came just too late, was dramatic, but should it have happened? The Celtics saw when Holiday fouled Smart with 5 seconds left a shooting foul, which would have meant three free throws for the Celtics’ point guard at a score of 103:100. The referees, on the other hand, interpreted it as a rip-through move a la Chris Paul and only gave two free throws. Very controversial, because anyone who knows Smart knows that he would definitely have liked to take the threesome.
Celtics vs. Bucks: The series at a glance
|1||1st May||19 o’clock||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||89:101|
|2||4. May||1 O ‘clock||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||109:86|
|3||May 7||9:30 p.m||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||103:101|
|4||May 10||1:30||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||–|
|5||12. May||1 O ‘clock||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||–|
|6*||14. May||TBD||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||–|
|7*||16. May||TBD||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||–|