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Milwaukee vs. Boston Game Five: Bucks Stun Celtics with Late Game Comeback

Picture perfect.

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Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five Photo by Maddie Malhotra/Getty Images

Wow. Simply, wow. The Milwaukee Bucks, looking DOA near the start of the fourth, mounted an improbable, unbelievable, impossible comeback that netted a 110-107 win over the Boston Celtics and gave them a chance to close it out in Game Six on Friday. Bucks in Six forever. Here are the late game highlights that helped decide this one.

Milwaukee hit some early triples, but Boston found some offensive rhythm as the first period went on as the Bucks led 28-26 after one. Boston started whirling through the Bucks defense in the second quarter while Milwaukee looked stagnant and turned it over, but a late Giannis Antetokounmpo run got them within 47-54 by half. A late display of impressive shotmaking by Jaylen Brown staved off a Milwaukee run as the Bucks had ground to make up, down 77-86 heading into the fourth. The fourth, well, the fourth featured unbelievable shotmaking (6-6 from deep), gutty shots by a bleeding Giannis, Jrue Holiday stealing Marcus Smart’s soul, everything one could hope for in a stunning win.

Three Pointers

Giannis carried the offense. With 19 points in the first half, Giannis wasn’t going to let his team fall behind too much early, as he started to get past Al Horford in one-on-one coverage and powered a late push to keep them within spitting distance after two quarters. He carried them offensively throughout the entire game with his attacking the rim and rolling off screens, even if the three-pointers still seem a bit like madness. But there was a method to his madness, as he hit a freaking three-pointer with blood streaming down his face and the Bucks down six with over a minute to play. Forty points and 11 rebounds put him in rarified air and he wouldn’t stop coming at the Celtics to end the game. Credit to him for knocking down one of this free throws late in the game and missing the second — one of the most surefire OREB in the game right now.

Jrue Holiday flipped the script. Some struggles are what we’ve come to expect offensively from Jrue in the playoffs, and clearly it’s difficult for him to shoulder this load with his defensive responsibilities, but it’s some of the errant passes and loose handles that do drive me nuts, along with the isolation pull-up jumpers rather than just bullying down low. In the third, he seemed like he got caught up trying to match the shots of Marcus Smart and the Celtics with Giannis off the court as he forced difficult turnarounds and push shots at the rim rather than trying to create something with the other players on the court. AND THEN EVERYTHING CHANGED. His defensive block of Marcus Smart at the rim, followed by a subsequent steal of him to close the game were truly DPOY level shit. Couple that with a clutch three, a midrange make, and Holiday erased any issues with this game from the minds of Bucks fans. Major credit to Jrue for being able to come up with those hustle plays at the end of the game despite playing 41 minutes.

Bud finally went with an all-switching lineup in the fourth, and it paid off. With the Celtics abusing Grayson Allen, Bud finally inserted Bobby Portis for him to go with a lineup of Jrue, Wes, Pat, Bobby and Giannis. Milwaukee was down 98-90 at that point. From there, they switched everything and outscored the Celtics, 20-9. No more Bobby hedging, just play it straight up and bait them into playing mismatch basketball and settling for jumpers. As was the case late in last year’s playoffs, Portis held his own, as did Connaughton, and of course Giannis, Holiday and Matthews could. It was a move we haven’t seen from Bud really all series besides fits and starts in this game, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time, nor been executed any better, as their offensive juice matched the defensive pressure.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Bud left Grayson Allen in the starting lineup and once again got the first bucket of the game for Milwaukee. Milwaukee also let him switch directly onto Tatum after he seemed to be hedging for most of the series. The rest of the first half...not so great. He had multiple turnovers, failed opportunities at the rim and Boston looked to attack him in transition whenever possible. It was rough. I wonder how much Bud can let him roll out in Game Six.
  • It seems like Bud gave the team the “let it fly” pregame chant before the game, and while making three of their first four obviously makes it seem like that was a sound strategy, they really needed to find a way to just flat-out get more triple attempts up so I thought that was encouraging. It didn’t hold the whole game, but it held when it mattered late in the fourth.
  • Bud went with Bobby in for Brook and Connaughton in for Allen just four and a half minutes into the contest. Bobby at least found a bit more offensive flow early looking for his shot, even if he sent up an airball.
  • Jayson Tatum was punishing Milwaukee over and over in the first when they hard hedged in the pick-and-roll, slicing passes to Daniel Theis when Bobby Portis couldn’t recover in time, and later making a nifty pass through defenders when Grayson Allen helped double him. It was nice to see Portis straight switch on Tatum late in the first half.
  • I’m really not sure why Bud had Giannis in the deep drop against Jayson Tatum pick-and-rolls...
  • 0 first half fast break points for the Bucks and just two points off turnovers versus eight and 11 respectively for Boston. Milwaukee still ended the night down 15-7 in fast break points.
  • Giannis went 7-9 in the second quarter; the rest of the team was 2-18.
  • Eventually, Bud went to the full switch across all five positions with Lopez handling Tatum early in the third on the pick-and-roll. He went away from it later. Thank goodness he brought it back late!
  • Milwaukee got into the bonus with 6:30 left in the third, but couldn’t take much advantage of it with only two non-shooting fouls from there on out.
  • Finally, Milwaukee posted a great offensive performance (really both teams did) with a 118 offensive rating. That was fueled by an absurd 35.4% offensive rebound rate and finally hitting some of their threes, going 13-29.

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