Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 42 points, Jrue Holiday added 25, and the Bucks survived a frantic finish against the Boston Celtics to earn a 103-101 win in game three of the eastern conference semifinals from Fiserv Forum.
With the win, Milwaukee takes a 2-1 series lead heading into Monday’s game-four.
After taking a 103-100 lead on a Jrue Holiday basket in the paint with 11.2 seconds to play, Celtics Head Coach Ime Udoka called timeout to set up a potential game-tying possession.
Out of the timeout, Holiday fouled Marcus Smart beyond the three-point line. Much to the chagrin of the Boston bench, referees ruled it was a non-shooting foul.
But because the Celtics were in the bonus, Smart was awarded two free throws.
“Marcus Smart tried to do the (Kevin) Durant-sweep-through-thing,” according to Bucks Head Coach Mike Budenholzer. “Fortunate that it was just two free throws. We were not trying to foul.”
After making the first, Smart intentionally missed the second, collected his own rebound. Smart and Robert Williams missed put-back attempts in the paint, and Al Horford’s follow-up to the follow-up went through the hoop after time expired.
The Celtics had three opportunities in the final 4.6 seconds to tie the game and came away empty, allowing the Bucks to hold on.
“It was a long time,” Holiday said about the final few seconds. “That’s a lot to happen in five seconds. Glad it went our way.”
“Both teams scrapping for a rebound and scrapping for a win,” added Budenholzer.
The Bucks seized control in the third quarter erasing a four-point deficit and building a thirteen-point lead.
As a team, the Bucks outscored the Celtics 32-17 and entered the fourth with an 80-67 advantage in another low scoring affair.
“We got off to a good start,” said Budenholzer. “Both teams are very physical. Both teams take pride in their defense. I don’t think anything surprised us – it’s what we should expect going forward.”
The third quarter belonged to the Bucks, but the fourth quarter belonged to the Celtics.
Boston shaved nine points off the Bucks lead in the first four-and-a-half minutes of the fourth prompting Budenholzer to call a timeout.
The Celtics completed the comeback and took a 100-99 with 1:45 left on a pair of free throws.
But the Bucks had just enough answers. Trailing 100-99 with fifty seconds left, Giannis scored the last of his 42 points in the paint to give the Bucks a lead they would never relinquish.
“That’s what he does,” Holiday continued. “Mentally he’s solid. Mentally he’s consistent. He also knows that not every game is gonna be a bad shooting game.”
The Bucks and Celtics resume the series Monday night in Milwaukee. Game-four of the best-of-seven series will tip-off at 6:30pm central time.
- After coming off the bench for the first seven games of the post-season, guard Grayson Allen replaced forward Bobby Portis in Mike Budenholzer’s starting lineup and was held scoreless in 25:27 of action.
- Bucks guard George Hill saw his first action of the post-season after missing the first seven games with an oblique injury.
- The Celtics attempted 33 free throws to the Bucks 17.
- Milwaukee did not attempt a free throw in the final 16:33 of the game. Boston attempted 17 during that time.
- After making just 3 of 18 three-point attempts in a game-two loss, the Bucks made 9 of 34 attempts from deep in a game-three win.
- Sunday’s game was played in front of a sellout crowd of 17,736.