Milwaukee Bucks edge Boston Celtics after frantic final second
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To help defending champion Milwaukee Box regain a lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals, Giannis Antetokunampo has found a way to take better shots and regain his top form in time.
But it was the bad times of the Boston Celtics that made the difference in the end.
Antetokounmpo bounced back from a rare subper performance, scoring 42 points and creating a basket to go ahead with 44.3 seconds left in Saturday’s 103-101 win. The Box Best-7 Series is leading 2-1 with Game 4 in Milwaukee on Monday night.
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“I know what my strength is,” says Antetokounmpo. “Just try to read what’s in front of me and just play with my instincts. Sometimes I’m going to play right and sometimes I’m going to play wrong, but as long as I play to my strength, we’ll be in a good place.”
The victory was not secure until replays confirmed that Al Harford’s potential tying putback – Marcus Smart deliberately capturing a wild sequence after missing a free throw – came just after the market.
“I saw Al Tip, and I saw the red outline on the backboard go off,” said Brook Lopez, the box center. “It was very close.”
Boston trailed 103-100 when officials determined that Jrue Holiday fouled Marcus Smart just before attempting to tie a potential 3-pointer with 4.6 seconds left. Because it was a non-shooting foul, Smart only got two free-throw attempts.
Smart made the first free throw, then deliberately missed the second – flinging a shot that hardened outside the backboard before hitting the rim.
Got a smart rebound, but missed his putback effort. Robert Williams of Boston charged the basket and sent the ball over the glass and out. Harford waited to the right with a putback effort that also closed the glass. Harford then received his own rebound and took it to the bank, but his final shot came shortly after the market heard.
“It totally missed,” Smart said. “No one was ready, (but) we had the boys. I picked it up in the rim. We had a few chances at it. It just didn’t work for us.”
The Celtics believed there should have been a chance to tie the game to the smart line. Celtics coach Eme Vodoka and Smart said the holiday shooting should have been a foul.
“You can see clearly,” Udoka said. “I’ve seen it personally, but also in the movie. I just went and saw it. It’s a shot. He’s getting crushed by his shot. He’s being fouled on the way up. Bad missed call.”
“Honestly, it looked like he was still on the sidelines,” said Holiday, who scored 25 points. “It’s not a shooting motion. He wasn’t facing the rim.”
Jelen Brown led the Celtics with 27 points and 12 rebounds. Harford had 22 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
Boston trailed 14 late in the third quarter and faced a 13-point deficit with less than 10 minutes left before returning. The Celtics took a 100-99 lead and took their first lead since the start of their third quarter with 1:49 left in Brown’s two free throws.
Both teams failed to score on their next asset before Antetocunumpo put the box ahead. Antetokunumpo then blocked Brown’s driving lay-up effort, leaving Holiday’s basket 103-100 with 11.2 seconds left.
The last-minute AntitoCunampo winning dramas highlight his bounce-back performances.
After shooting 38.5% (20 out of 52) in the first two games of the series, Antetokounmpo jumped to 16 out of 30 on Saturday. He made 62.5% of his effort (15 of 24) from the two-point range. He had 12 rebounds and eight assists to go with 42 points.
It was a big upgrade from his Game 2 outing, when he went 2 out of 12 and made just five points in the first half before finishing 28 out of 109-86 at the box.
“There’s going to be a struggle here, but at the end of the day, if you’re with it and you’re with it and you must be, you’re going to be successful,” said Antetokunumpo. “If you don’t, you can’t succeed. It’s that easy.”
Antetokounmpo confirms that the box does not drop in their title defense.
Tattoo hard day
The day Brown and Harford both made double-doubles, the Celtics still lost in part due to the struggles of all-star forward Jason Tatum. Tatum missed all six of his 3-point efforts before finishing with 4 shots and 10 points out of 19 overall.
Tatum said his left wrist was bothering him but added that it did not affect his game.
“I was probably thinking a little too much,” Tatum said. “It all comes down to the fact that I have to read better.”
Celtics: Robert Williams went into the locker room after taking an elbow in the face of Milwaukee’s Bobby Portis in the third quarter as they got tangled under the basket as they chased the ball. Williams returned with the third ball. … reserve forward Sam Hauser, who played two minutes in each of the first two games of the series, was unavailable on Saturday due to a right shoulder injury. Udoka said House fell into practice. “He’ll be fine in the long run,” Vodoka said. “It’s something he can stay out of for a few weeks on that basis.” … the Celtics lost despite having a big edge in the foul line. The Celtics had 28 of 33 and 17 out of 14 free-throw attempts.
Box: Reserve guard George Hill is playing for the first time this season after recovering from a strained abdominal muscle. … Grayson Allen started the first play-off of his career and moved to the role of Portis Bench. … Box has overcome a major free-throw inequality. The Celtics had 28 of 33 and 17 out of 14 free-throw attempts. … Lopez had 13 points and 10 rebounds. He had a total of eight points in the first two matches of the series.
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