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Milwaukee vs. Boston Game 3: Bucks Survive Celtics’ Comeback Attempt, 103-101

Milwaukee now holds a 2-1 series advantage

NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Wow. That was an insane finish. The Milwaukee Bucks would survive the Boston Celtics’ late comeback efforts by a 103-101 victory, securing a 2-1 series advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo came out like a wrecking ball in the first quarter, totaling seven points in the first installment of the period. He’d get off to a much better start than he did in Game 2, helping Milwaukee catch a lead that they’d hold for much of the opening 12 minutes. Going into the second quarter, the Bucks clung to a 22-19 advantage. Both teams didn’t shoot well from deep in the opening frame, with Milwaukee going 2-of-10 (20%) and Boston 1-of-7 (14.3%).

Fouls would be the common theme for both teams in the second quarter, as everyone seemed to get a rotation at the charity stripe. It definitely epitomized just how gritty this game was turning out to be. Through all of the whistles, the Celtics would come back and capture a 50-46 advantage.

Jrue Holiday really started to get things to click on the offensive end in the third. When that happened, things really started to turn for Milwaukee and a page seemed to be flipped. The Bucks would eventually open things up to a double-digit advantage. They’d keep that momentum growing throughout the quarter, with things ultimately culminating in an 80-67 advantage headed into the fourth.

And what an entertaining fourth quarter that would turn out to be. The Celtics would chisel their way back into this one, with the Bucks nearly blowing a 14 point deficit late. However, Al Horford’s tip-in that would’ve tied the game was waived off due to it being late, and the Bucks survived by a 103-101 score. They now hold a 2-1 series advantage.

Giannis Antetokounmpo was his usual self, posting a massive stat line. His 42 points served as the game high. He’d tally 12 boards to go along with that. Jrue Holiday was brilliant as well, finishing with 25 points.

For Boston, Jaylen Brown was the leading scorer, concluding his afternoon with 27 points. Al Horford was a force as well, totaling 22 points.

Three Observations

Jrue Holiday was huge on the offensive end.

With Khris Middleton continuing to be sidelined, Milwaukee needs players to step up to complement Giannis on the offensive end. Yesterday, Jrue Holiday filled that void. He’d erupt for 25 points on the afternoon, going 11-of-30 from the floor. After the Bucks were down at halftime, they needed some juice to get going to begin the second half, and Holiday provided it. It’s what provided them the big lead going into the fourth. He’ll need to have similar outings going forward if the Bucks want to advance.

The Bucks did not decide to foul Marcus Smart late.

In his postgame availability, Bud confirmed to us that it was not his intentions to foul Marcus Smart:

Here’s what Bud had to say regarding the thinking of whether to foul up three or to let the three be taken:

“I mean, you know, every coach is probably different. It’s a big philosophical question. You gotta kind of make some decisions, you gotta practice, you gotta live with it, understand. There’s nothing that’s perfect, unfortunately. You gotta work on it. You gotta understand what you’re doing and be your best at end of games.”

Milwaukee did a fantastic job on defending Jayson Tatum.

A key to victory in this one was going to be the ability to shut down either Jayson Tatum or Jaylen Brown. While Brown was able to score 27 points, Tatum only scratched out 10. That was absolutely massive for the Bucks. Here’s what Bud had to say regarding that postgame:

“Wes takes on the majority of that assignment. Jrue takes him some. Those two guys, individual pride, their individual defensive abilities are pretty special and unique. The defense from the team around them — Brook, Giannis, the activity, the competitiveness was in a good place.”

Now, will they be able to limit Tatum that much moving forward? More likely than not, they won’t be able to. However, it was huge not having both he and Brown on, as if they were, Boston surely would’ve came away with a win.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • George Hill made his return to action yesterday for Milwaukee. He hadn’t played since April 8th in Detroit due to an abdominal strain. In his return, he played a hair under 11 minutes while not scoring. I thought it was interesting that he was off the bench prior to Jevon Carter, who finished with 2:18 of game action.
  • An interesting quote from Ime Ukoda here:
  • In the first half, the Bucks were missing shots. They were getting open looks, but just not hitting. Things started to start trending north for them in the second half, but they’ll want to have better shooting percentages in Game 4.
  • Regarding the final defensive possession, here’s what Bud had to say:
  • That third quarter was the opposite of what we’ve seen from the Bucks all season long. However, we seemed to have gotten the typical Bucks third quarter in the fourth quarter. Fortunately for them, they were able to hold on for the victory.
  • Al Horford terrorized Milwaukee. The Bucks were giving him room and he took advantage, totaling 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. He was a key reason as to why the Celtics were able to make the surge late. The Bucks will need to develop a stronger answer for him in Game 4.
  • If you thought the final 4.6 seconds lasted an eternity, you weren’t alone. Jrue Holiday felt the same way. Additionally, he said this:
  • Jrue Holiday took 30 shots without getting a free throw attempt. I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen a stat line like that.
  • Grayson failed to score last night. He would attempt several 3-pointers but not connect on a single one. Look for him to have a bounce back outing in Game 4.
  • Milwaukee got the edge in the paint. They outscored Boston 52-32 in that category.
  • Numerous times yesterday, Pat Connaughton let a 3-pointer fly without dropping his hands down. It’s pretty impressive. In his postgame presser, Jrue said it’s only he and Klay that have the ability to do that.
  • Boston shot 34 free throws compared to Milwaukee’s 17. It’ll be intriguing to see how that number shakes out in Game 4.
  • A certain Bucks legend was in the building for this one:
  • Last, Giannis chimed in about the mural that’s being painted of him: