The Milwaukee Bucks posted a horrific performance from deep, and coupled with a rough final three quarters of shooting from Giannis Antetokounmpo (and, well, everyone), and the Boston Celtics moved onto the Eastern Conference Finals behind a 109-81 win.
Brook Lopez and the complementary gang showed up to kick this one off, helping push the Bucks to a 26-20 lead following the first. Milwaukee weathered through a really rough 3-19 half from deep and trailed 48-43 after a bad foul call to end the half. Milwaukee didn’t find any more rhythm after the half, and even with Tatum on the bench for much of the period, Boston pushed their lead to a sizable advantage, 79-64 as the Bucks had 12 minutes to dig themselves out. They couldn’t though, as the three advantage for Boston just continued to grow and Milwaukee saw its season end in the second round.
A defending championship season comes to a close. I’m sure many of you are disappointed, probably upset, likely second-guessing some decisions too. I can’t blame you either. Grayson Allen played plenty in this series, and while I understood the rationale that he brought something offensively, that was entirely theoretical as he couldn’t hit a shot. But, for me personally, I am going away content with the season as-is given Milwaukee pushed maybe the second-best team in the league to seven games without their second best offensive player. I lay this series loss primarily at the feet of missing Khris Middleton, but there’s no denying the frustration that comes with the idea we still could’ve win.
Milwaukee just couldn’t make threes. It was truly the story of the series, as the Bucks deep shooting just failed them spectacularly at the time they needed it most. Equally as rough as their bad shooting though was how Boston limited their attempts, with just 29.5% of their shots coming from deep in this series (which would’ve ranked last in the regular season) vs. 38.5% in the regular season. Plus, they hit just 29.2% overall from deep. On a day Boston hit 22-55, there was no way to overcome that disparity.
The Bucks shot just 4-33 (12.1%) from 3P range today.— Justin Kubatko (@jkubatko) May 15, 2022
The only team in NBA postseason history to shoot a lower percentage on at least 30 3P attempts is the Jazz on April 25, 2022 (3-30, 10.0%).
Giannis was impressive, but clearly gassed. Giannis came out with a near triple-double in the first half, but was full of blown bunnies as the game wore on. It was uncharacteristic for Milwaukee’s superstar, who still put forth a series that will easily place him as the best player in the league heading into next season. Credit to him for even getting the Bucks to the point where they might’ve been able to win this series. He ended with 25 points, 20 rebounds and nine assists.
Bonus Bucks Bits
- Lopez made his presence known in the first period, hitting his first triple of the series and making timely jumpers in the paint. All day long he looked like one of the more indispensable Bucks, as we knew all year. Let’s hope he’s healthy all through next year.
- Jrue Holiday was gassed on both ends, ending with 21 points on 21 shots, as was his wont this entire series. You saw how hard it was for him to maintain that kind of energy on both ends. Hopefully he rests up over the off-season after the grueling stretch of championship to Olympics to this run he just faced.
- Wes Matthews man. This team truly needed his defensive presence all year, and hopefully he returns next year to give it one more run. They would’ve been woefully short on the backcourt defensive rotation without him this season.
- I know many wanted to see Jevon Carter get some run in this game, but I didn’t think defense was the issue here, and he wasn’t going to fix the offensive end. Just my two cents.
- Guannis got called for a 3-point shot foul at the end of the first half…not my favorite call.
- Bud reverted back to the BIG three lineup with Bobby Portis, Giannis and Brook in the third quarter, and that’s when you knew they really needed to find something that somehow might work offensively. Narrator: it did not.
- There’s a lot left to suss out this offseason, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Milwaukee enter next season as co-favorites for the title with a healthy Khris Middleton. It should be an enjoyable offseason, with (maybe!) a first round draft selection made and free agency decisions to be made on Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton and a few others. Thanks for following along on Brew Hoop all season long and stick around for the offseason coverage.