This series is tied up, folks! The Milwaukee Bucks were able to topple the Boston Celtics 104-102 Sunday afternoon at the Bradley Center, ensuring us that we will get one more game at the Fortress on Fourth Street.
Immediately from the tip, the crowd was deafening. Bucks in Six chants filled the atmosphere before the action even started. As for the actual play in the first quarter? It had everything. Jabari taking and hitting threes. Playoff Thon. Flashy moves by Middleton. And it all was capped off when Matthew Dellavedova stole a rolling in-bounds pass and scooped in a floater as time expired. After one, Milwaukee led 24-17.
That same energy would extrapolate even further as the second quarter rolled on. An engaged Jabari Parker, an extremely confident Thon, and a hot-shooting Middleton all played a major role in padding Milwaukee’s lead. At the halftime buzzer, the Bucks held onto a 51-35 lead.
But as was expected, Boston wouldn’t roll over and die. An 8-0 run made things interesting to start off the third quarter, as Joe Prunty was forced to put in his second line. Boston would continue embarking on run after run, eventually resulting in a 20-6 run over a span of six minutes. They’d eventually slash the deficit to single digits by the end of the period. Heading into the final quarter of play, Milwaukee’s lead was only eight points at 75-67.
From there, the drama would really pick up. Surges from Boston on all areas of the court continued to wear down the Bucks. Jaylen Brown proved to be the major force that led the comeback efforts. Boston would reclaim the lead at 100-99 on a Jayson Tatum jumper, making it first time they were up since holding a 14-13 lead with 3:06 left in the first quarter.
A 3-pointer from Malcolm Brogdon would give the Bucks a 102-100 lead with 33 ticks left, but Al Horford would connect on two free throws to even things back out. On the ensuing possession, Malcolm Brogdon would try to swoop in for a layup, but it wouldn’t fall. Fortunately, his efforts were cleaned up by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who tapped it in with five seconds left.
On the ensuing possession, Boston would go to an iso with Marcus Morris. He was able to get an awfully good shot off, but thankfully, it rimmed out too long and the Bucks were able to get the win they needed to tie this series up.
Giannis led the way for Milwaukee, wrapping up his day with 27 points. Khris Middleton paced the box score with 23 of his own, and Jabari Parker had another strong outing off the bench with 16 points.
Jaylen Brown provided major problems all game long with each of his 34 points. He was aided by rookie Jayson Tatum who chipped in 21. Al Horford, Terry Rozier, and Marcus Morris all finished in double digits.
Playoff Thon continues to be a force.
We saw it last year in the Toronto series and we’ve now seen it in the last two games against Boston. Thon’s confidence is at an all-time high. He didn’t have a scoring outburst similar to his Game 3 outing, but he tallied five blocks and was a defensive prowess all game long. Here’s one of them on Marcus Morris and which shows his emotion:
There was another moment that I’m unable to find, but it was where he forced a turnover. He ended up marching down the floor with his hand extended and pointing to the other end of the court. I was ready to run through a brick wall. #PlayoffThon is always a massive adrenaline rush.
It was a tale of two halves for Jabari Parker.
Are we sure that Jabari Parker that was actually playing defense in the first half actually him? It was something we had never seen before -- him being alert and aware of the defensive scenarios. He was holding his own everywhere, especially down in the post. Tipped passes, turnovers, and more were caused due to this new and improved Jabari. Here’s a good mashup put together by Nate Duncan that shows what I’m discussing:
Jabari Parker became the greatest defensive player in Milwaukee Bucks history overnight #TwitterNBAShow https://t.co/nf1NnGRGtc pic.twitter.com/1EwL25E9hk— Nate Duncan (@NateDuncanNBA) April 22, 2018
Unfortunately, he failed to find similar success in the second half (not surprising). I don’t know why there were problems. But still, it was fun while it lasted! However, he still had a really good game. It was another strong performance from him as he finished with 16 points, and he totals numbers like that, it usually results in good things for the Bucks.
It was clear that Matthew Dellavedova was the better option than Eric Bledsoe.
Yet another game in this series where Eric Bledsoe didn’t have that good of a night. He had the worst RPM on the night for Milwaukee, digging out a -10 on the game. That was culminated by a 3-of-9 night from the floor that was dovetailed by just five assists and one rebound. Meanwhile, Dellavedova wreaked major havoc on Boston, especially on the defensive end. He held his own more through his awareness, as he only scored four points. However, one of those buckets came on this incredible play:
This is where my ears began to hurt.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- There were numerous times where Milwaukee had their fast breaks thwarted solely due to going out of control. It’s the playoffs, which means that there is no margin for error, especially when a possession is earned via a turnover. We all know how the Bucks have been despicable in transition this season, and now it’s really hurting them. Let’s cross our fingers that things won’t be as costly Tuesday night in Boston.
- Many Bucks fans were voicing their displeasure that Eric Bledsoe received a majority of playing time over Matthew Dellavedova in the second half. I asked Brad Stevens postgame if he felt that they were able to me more efficient on offense when Bledsoe was in over Dellavedova, and he responded with a very insightful response:
“They’re both very good players.”
Definitely the most intellectual comment I’ve ever received from an opposing coach.
- The Bucks, specifically Khris Middleton, handled that last possession very well. It ended up being an isolation with Marcus Morris, something nobody really expected. But Khris Middleton handled the shock well and was able to defend the shot very well. Postgame, I asked him what was going through his head during that final play:
Asked Middleton what he was expecting on Boston's final in-bounds play and if there was any surprise that it went to Morris. He mentioned how he thought it was good from his view (I think we ALL thought it was going to fall). pic.twitter.com/tfkMRUk2ei— Gabe Stoltz (@Stoltzy3) April 22, 2018
Like I said in my tweet, I think everybody watching thought it was going to go in. It definitely looked as if it had the arc and everything else needed to sink through, but thank goodness it didn’t.
- Malcolm Brogdon had another huge game. Though he only tallied 10 points, he had a couple of crucial plays that paced the Bucks down the stretch, including this massive 3-pointer. His clutch play is a testament as to how important he is to this basketball team and man, is it nice having him back.
- As for the whole Giannis/Bel Air incident, it’s pretty crappy that he wasn’t even greeted at the door. Let’s be honest though, it’s probably a good thing Giannis ended up not eating there. There are many other places to get better Mexican food in the city. But go figure, he went to the one restaurant in Milwaukee that wouldn’t freak out at having him as a customer.
At @BelAirCantina on water street and just watched @Giannis_An34 wait for a table for 10 minutes and no one helped him so he left... Dude just won Milwaukee a playoff game! Get him some service pic.twitter.com/hcjsJfThiA— Morgan (@MoSokanhe) April 22, 2018