The Celtics' season was all about resilience, and now they face their toughest test in Game 6 at Bucks

The Celtics are a resilient team, but they need to win their next two games or they will go into the offseason. (Author: Gardener)

Game 6BOSTON — As Ime Udoka pointed out after the game, the Celtics' mantra this season has been all about how they've responded to adversity. When the C's first-year coach lamented his team's lack of mental toughness, the season seemed lost... And every time the Celtics stared the Bucks in the face in a crucial game, they delivered. It happened in Game 2, a home win in which they blew up Milwaukee. It happened in Game 4 where the Celtics made a comeback to avoid a 3-1 hole. Of course, that effort collapsed in Game 5 in a 110-107 loss to the Bucks on Wednesday at TD Garden. The Celtics collapsed in epic fashion, wasting a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter, botching the offensive rebound from a missed free throw and failing to execute their last few possessions. "What we've done throughout the series and throughout the season is recover when we've been tested — and even this series," Udoka said. "It was an opportunity tonight but I have to go to Milwaukee, take one game at a time and try to bring it back here." The Celtics are one loss — or a few bad bounces late — away from a postseason exit. They trail 3-2 and the series moves back to the Fiserv Forum for Game 6, which is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday. The Celtics' entire season has been about how they bounce back from adversity. They proved they are a different team during a dominant period in the second half of the season. There were times when the Celtics looked like contenders — even in that series, when they brought home field field advantage back to Boston after an important Game 4 win. Game 6 will be the biggest test of the season for the Celtics and there's nothing beyond that at this point. There's no looking forward, Jayson Tatum said, as they try not to put undue pressure on themselves. "There's no point in being sad or bowing your head because that won't do anything for the next game," Tatum said. "Always be optimistic and believe in yourself, believe in your group that we can win Friday's game." The Celtics, of course, have the juice to knock out the defending champions. Games 3, 4 and 5 could all have gone to either team; the Bucks went 2-1 in those contests. Udoka said they should look at the positives, be it the solid defense or how they built the lead. The Bucks have dominated the Celtics on the offensive glass and it was fitting that Portis' setback proved to be the difference between the teams. "If we've unpacked, we'll win this game," said Marcus Smart. They did a good job getting extra shots and they hit them. You have to do a better job there, clean up.” The Celtics clearly have the mental strength to play the Bucks hard on the street. They came back from double-digit deficits in both games 3 and 4. Just like Smart said, the Bucks "did to us what we did to them last game." A second-round loss to the defending champions is anything but a failure - especially given their 18-21 start to the season. The Bucks are the perfect example of their NBA championship run last season, coming back from a 3-2 deficit against the Nets and a 2-0 loss against the Suns. The Celtics still have the power of the competition, that reality hasn't changed after a stunning loss on Wednesday. "It definitely hurts, but we don't have time to feel it," Smart said. If you are not ready for the next game then do not enter the court.


6 takeaways as Bobby Portis and Bucks stun Celtics late in Game 5

The Celtics fell apart in the fourth quarter of Game 5 and lost costly to the Bucks, falling 3-2 behind in their series. (Author: Gardener)

Game 5You could see the offensive rebound coming if you looked closely. The Celtics spent most of the fourth quarter going undefeated after building a 14-point lead with plenty of time remaining. Giannis Antetokounmpo had already made a 3-pointer and the Celtics were ready to let him shoot. But the brightest blink was of course the offensive rebounds. The Bucks finished Game 5 with 17, and the big one was brought down by Bobby Portis, who happened to be in the right place at the right time when Giannis Antetokounmpo missed a crucial free throw. Portis grabbed a loose ball tapped by Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown and put it back up and in to give the Bucks a one-point lead. The shocked Celtics were unable to score another goal and Smart was stripped trying to advance the ball in the dying seconds. The Bucks went 3-2 in a stunning 110-107 win. "It was tough losing hard away," said Jayson Tatum. Antetokounmpo ended with a huge line - 40 points in 16-for-27 shooting - and he and the Bucks once again swept away home field advantage from the Celtics. The Celtics spent the second half of the season knocking out teams, but the Bucks are different — a battle-hardened group who won't beat themselves. The Celtics learned a hard lesson about quitting the job on Wednesday. Having outplayed the Bucks for three and a half quarters, the Celtics now need to beat them at home to force a Game 7 thanks to a series of errors in the fourth. 2. Something strange happened with this piece. According to Udoka, the game was designed for Tatum to get the ball after an Al Horford pin-down. According to Smart, nobody moved too long, so he gave Derrick White an outlet. A closer look at the piece might reveal: Al Horford waited too long and may not have noticed crucial seconds pass. When the official passed the ball to White, Horford stood far too long. Marcus Smart gestured across the court and then attempted to make a play, but Holiday's exploits saved the Bucks (Smart was almost certainly about to score). Smart confirmed after the game that he didn't see Holiday approaching. "Everyone was just standing around and we didn't have timeouts and there was a five-second count along the way, so I'm just open and trying to make a play," Smart said. Got a good game.” 3. The Bucks pushed the ball even more aggressively than usual and caught the Celtics, who were napping after several baskets, much to Ime Udoka's dismay. Antetokounmpo is of course a one-man fast break whenever he chooses to do so, but the Bucks clearly made it their goal to beat the Celtics whenever they could. One wonders if Mike Budenholzer saw the Celtics crave calls and saw an opportunity to take advantage of them. 4. Derrick White had a fine evening, especially in the first half as the Celtics attempted to hold serve against the Bucks' early 3-point attack. At the start of Wednesday's game, the white, brown and Tatum lineups had outscored their opponents in the postseason by a staggering 35.9 points per 100 possessions (up from an almost equally impressive 20.2 points per 100 possessions last year). If the Celtics find a way to progress and if Robert Williams' knee pain lingers into the postseason, it might be worth giving White a look at the starters. 5. After defeats, a defeated team can often point out mistakes that they will correct in the next game. The Celtics don't have that luxury after Wednesday's defeat. Tatum repeated himself four times within two questions: The Celtics must proceed to Game 6. "We have a game Friday night," Tatum said. “You can make it bigger but it's as simple as we have a game on Friday night. Throughout the season you try to win every game and Friday night will be no different. There is no way around it, it was a bitter loss. But however you react, however you retaliate, we'll certainly be ready by Friday. 6. There were several big plays that felt like momentum changers, but the biggest was Al Horford's put-back dunk, which will now be forgotten no matter what happens the rest of the way. The Celtics need to create some new iconic moments if they want to progress. Those in Game 5 will now be a distant memory. In case you missed it, the Celtics have a game on Friday.


Bucks-Celtics Game 5 was an instant classic that will define the NBA playoffs

Bucks-Celtics Game 5 had it all. (Author: Gardener)

Bucks-Celtics Game 5The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics can each win the championship this season. Anyone who has invested in their second-round streak in the 2022 NBA Playoffs understands this intuitively. The Celtics have been the hottest team in the league since February, fueled by a historically good defense. It feels wrong that either of these teams will see their season-ending in Round 2, but it only makes this matchup feel even more jarring. This was the most compelling series of Round 2 even before Game 5, which historically feels like the most significant game of any playoff series — at least before Game 7. If a series is tied 2-2 in the NBA playoffs, the team who game 5 wins, the series wins 83 percent of the time. With the series set to return to Milwaukee for Game 6, there was no denying that Wednesday night's matchup was going to be monumental. Bucks-Celtics Game 5 didn't just live up to the hype - it gave us an instant classic that we might remember for years to come. Milwaukee's 110-107 win to take a crucial 3-2 straight lead provided everything a great playoff game should have and then some. The Celtics led by 14 points in the fourth quarter. Milwaukee hadn't held the lead since the start of the second quarter and just didn't seem to have enough offensive firepower to win the game. Every moment of the fourth quarter felt frozen, but somehow the defending champion Bucks made more plays to make it through. Giannis Antetokounmpo branded himself the best player in the world during his run to the 2021 championship. Antetokounmpo suffered a scary knee injury in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals but returned for the NBA Finals, pulling his team out of a 0-2 series hole to win the championship. In the Bucks' title-winning Game 6, Antetokounmpo had 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks while defeating his personal demons from the free-throw line by scoring 17-of-19 on the night. Giannis already had two MVPs and a Defensive Player of the Year trophy prior to last season, but watching him win a ring felt like it officially cemented him as the best basketball player alive. This really feels like Giannis' league right now, but the margin error is small even for the all-time greats. Boston is perfectly capable of knocking out the Bucks -- especially with Milwaukee missing one of its "big three" and Khris Middleton out with a knee injury. The Celtics can certainly still win this series and it wouldn't be a surprise at all if they did win the title. But given how important it has historically been to win Game 5, it certainly feels like the Bucks are in control now. The Celtics could have put a big damper on the idea that this could be the Giannis era by winning Game 5. Somehow the Bucks made the comeback, with the best player in the world finishing in the win with 40 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics have felt like the better team this series, but there's no denying that Giannis is the best player on the floor. At this point, it feels like winning a championship means going through Giannis. Holiday always felt like one of the more underrated stars of his generation going into last season. He's arguably the best defender of this era, and he's also capable of scoring 20 or 25 points any night. Holiday made some gigantic plays to end the Bucks' title run last year, and now he has another bright moment to add to his legacy. With the Celtics trailing behind and smashing the ball in with 11 seconds left, Marcus Smart received the inbounds pass and turned the corner to look for the go-ahead layup. He would have had it if it wasn't for Holiday, who blocked the shot from behind and somehow kept it in the inbound before flipping it off Smart to make it Buck's ball. After the Bucks took two free throws to extend the lead to three points, Smart received the inbounds pass and pinned the ball to the floor. Holiday was there to greet him and steal the ball to cement the win for Milwaukee. Giannis was 2-of-16 from three-point range in that series when he entered Game 5. Usually, Giannis three-pointers are hard for Bucks fans to take, but after Horford's tip-dunk, he hit a huge three-pointer to reduce the deficit to three in less than two minutes remaining. Holiday followed with another hard three to level the game with the next possession. Finally, there was Bobby Portis' putback after a missed free throw by Giannis that gave the Bucks the lead for good. Milwaukee hit Boston on the offensive glass all night, and that was the one that really hurt. The Bucks also shot 6-for-6 from three-point range in the fourth quarter. If Milwaukee wins the series—hell, if Milwaukee repeats as champions—we'll look back on that game as a true game changer. If Boston comes back to win that series -- or even the championship -- we'll point to this Game 5 and say the Celtics were able to get off the ground and recover from such an emotional loss.


Bucks Showcase Championship pedigree to take Celtics to the brink

Winning defensive plays and clutch shots helped Milwaukee recover from a double-digit deficit in the fourth quarter and take a 3-2 straight lead. (Author: Gardener)

MilwaukeeThe Bucks defeated the Celtics 110-107 on Wednesday to take a 3-2 lead in the series. Coach Ime Udoka said, "We know we blew a golden opportunity tonight." In wild, unpredictable NBA playoffs - the Grizzlies beat the Warriors how many? – this game could top them all. Ten minutes to go, Boston is 14 up and this game is over. It wasn't like the Celtics were playing great. Jayson Tatum had 34 points ... but needed 29 shots to get them. Game 4 hero Al Horford had eight. Daniel Theis, who was dusted again with Robert Williams out, was the only Celtics sub in double figures. Milwaukee was not rally-ready. Didn't have the firepower. At least they didn't seem to be. How many times have we been reminded how great Boston's defense was? There was no way the Bucks could beat it. With Khris Middleton out, the final games of that series were the (Giannis) Antetokounmpo show. He scored 42 points in a Game 3 win. He scored 34 in a Game 4 loss. Early in Game 5, the Bucks were trying to move the ball around. Jrue Holiday had nine points. Bobby Portis bet four chips from the bank. But as the Celtics' defense tightened, Giannis took over. In the second quarter he scored 15 points. The rest of the Bucks scored four. On the move, Antetokounmpo was unstoppable. He pulled down 11 rebounds, hit the free throw line 10 times, and hit almost 60% of his shots. In three quarters, only one other Bucks player, Holiday, had cracked double digits. He had 16 points, but it took him 16 shots to do it. Boston had beaten Milwaukee in the fourth quarter of their last two games and had the NBA's No. 1 defense to end it. Only they didn't. A Pat Connaughton three with eight minutes remaining cut the lead to a single digit. Two free throws by Bobby Portis made it six. With less than a minute to play, Holiday hit a three to equal it. The Bucks were two down when Antetokounmpo went to the free throw line with 14 seconds left. He missed the second but Portis, back in rotation after just 15 minutes into Game 4, pulled down the rebound and turned back. Boston still had a chance. After a time out, Smart jumped free on the baseline. And then Holiday, perhaps the best full-back in the NBA whose name wasn't Smart, came to the block. "Jrue does that," says Antetokounmpo. Two Connaughton free throws extended the lead to three. A holiday steal from Smart in the final seconds ended the game. "Credit Milwaukee," Brown said. “They play hard for 48 minutes. Championship DNA is a phrase that gets thrown around loosely in sports. Too loose. The Bucks just showed it. They could have folded in the fourth quarter. Middleton's absence had forced Antetokounmpo on a constant isolation diet and pushed Holiday into a second goalscoring position in which he's not really comfortable. Losing in Boston in an eardrum-shattering arena would have been excusable. But they didn't fold. The Bucks gave up nine points in the last eight minutes. Antetokounmpo, who has fought every series with his three-point shot, knocked down a big one. Portis made four free throws in his last eight minutes. Even when the offense stutters, the Bucks never lose faith in each other. "We're always disciplined," said Antetokounmpo. "We always give everything we have ... most of the time we do the right thing. I think everyone has faith in each other that we're going to make the right game. That we will do the extra pass. That we will always be there, no matter what the outcome. I feel like this group no matter what the result we can go home feeling good. When we watch movies, it's never about 'you need to try harder' or 'you need to guard this guy better'. The effort from us, from this team, is mostly always there.” The series moves back to Milwaukee on Friday and the numbers for Game 6 will be just as close. These are two elite defenses. Any possession between these two teams was a street fight. At some point late in the fourth quarter, Giannis shot in the side of the eye, which bled. But the Bucks have marginalized the Celtics. Boston has shown great determination this season, adjusting to a new coach, overcoming a terrible start, battling through injuries and COVID-related illnesses. You have to show more of that to beat Milwaukee on their home soil. The Bucks played like champions on Wednesday. On Friday we'll see if the Celtics can do the same.


The Boston Celtics just nipped their best shot at beating the Milwaukee Bucks

Did the Boston Celtics just squander their best shot at knocking out the Milwaukee Bucks and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals and, by extension, the NBA Finals? Forgive the rude start of this discussion... (Author: Gardener)

The Boston CelticsDid the Boston Celtics just squander their best shot at knocking out the Milwaukee Bucks and making it to the Eastern Conference Finals and, by extension, the NBA Finals? There's no point in disguising what happened to the Celtics in Game 5 on Wednesday night. A 14-point lead and near-total control of the entire game led to an unlucky fourth quarter and a 110-107 loss to the Bucks. The odds were overwhelming that the Celtics would win even within two minutes. Late-game unraveling is rarely this deep. Everyone will remember Jrue Holiday's iconic defensive stops against Marcus Smart over Boston's last two offensive possessions. That block in particular became infinitely more devilish when Holiday threw Smart's rock to ensure Milwaukee gained control of the ball: And then there's the steal he took from Defensive Player of the Year after Pat Connaughton hit two free throws . Holiday didn't even allow Smart to cross half the court: Now seems like a good time to note that the Bucks have won as much as the Celtics have lost. Holiday hit some big shots on the stretch in addition to his defensive play. Connaughton remains one of the most underrated two-way wings in the league. And, oh yes: Giannis created another masterpiece, exploding for 40 points, 11 rebounds and a handful of WTF defensive plays. His seven turnovers look outrageous on paper, but he's so often been the Bucks' only source of attack and the main reason this game never got out of hand for Milwaukee. Still, nothing overshadows how responsible the Celtics are for their own downfall. This is not just about the last possessions. They imploded down the track in just about every way imaginable. The fact that they "only" lost the fourth quarter with 12 points (33:21) seems like a small miracle. After dictating the pace and matchups for most of the first three quarters, Boston played the final frame like a team with no direction. Five of his 10 turnovers came in the fourth, giving Milwaukee 10 points. Seven of the 17 offensive rebounds the Celtics gave up were also given up in the final third. The Bucks converted those into a total of nine second-chance points after accumulating just 11 in the first three frames. Aspects of Milwaukee's revival in the fourth quarter were beyond Boston's control. Giannis and Jrue both have shots that make you sigh, make the AlonzoMourning.gif face and move on. The Celtics did just the opposite. On offense, they lined up and played with seemingly no rhyme or reason or any semblance of pace. They took zero threes. This is "zero" with Z. For the entire quarter. Lifting threes isn't everything, and the Bucks were more accurate in chasing the Celtics off the line later in the game. But being outplayed 18-0 in a single quarter behind the arc is a hell of a way to lose a double-digit lead. Then, of course, we have the rampant self-sabotage in Game 5's final seconds - the moments that will compel many to make Marcus Smart the face of this monumental meltdown. He broke the post-time-out game script created by head coach Ime Udoka (as Jayson Tatum confirmed): He also missed a wiiiiide open tatum on the final, final possession that Holiday blew up: He gave a person the Blame for an entire collapse is more than just reductive. Wins and losses are not player statistics. Smart isn't responsible for the times Tatum and even Grant Williams have pushed back on defense because they wanted heated sidebars with an official. He didn't commit all of Boston's turnovers. He alone did not stray from riding the incendiary device known as Al Horford, which only attempted seven shots. He didn't let Portis grab a critical offensive rebound from a missed Giannis free throw, though he typed it. Smart also can't be blamed for Holiday's defensive transcendence or for Connaughton crashing the ATO, which ended in a Holiday block. Smart made mistakes and played a poor fourth quarter, but so did the rest of the team. Maybe the Celtics will win Game 6. The thing is, they have to win Game 7 too. Boston has yet to do it in this series. And if the Celtics' comeback that should never have been needed falls short or never gets off the ground, they'll look to that game, that fourth quarter, as the moment that cost them their season — and what was once like a real one Crack at an NBA title looked like. Unless otherwise noted, stats are from, Basketball Reference, Stathead, or Cleaning the Glass.


The reason the Celtics lost Game 5? They were passed by the Bucks when it mattered.

The 110-107 loss here was one of the worst in recent memory for a team that played superbly for 3½ quarters. (Author: Gardener)

CelticsJrue Holiday rushed in to block Marcus Smart's shot, with the Bucks holding a 108-107 lead late in the fourth. The most demoralizing factor in the Celtics' loss in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals — a game Boston led by 14 points in the fourth quarter — is that they didn't play hard enough when it mattered. The Bucks didn't leverage a dominant fourth quarter from Giannis Antetokounmpo to steal that game. They won Wednesday at TD Garden by passing their opponent, chasing offensive rebounds, wiping to cause loose balls and making the Celtics submit. Celtic's 110-107 defeat was one of the worst in recent memory for a side that played brilliantly for 3½ quarters and then looked inept in the final minutes. And defending champion Bucks showed championship strength, including Antetokounmpo, who spurted a crucial 3-pointer - after an offensive rebound - that set off the Celtics' collapse with 1 minute and 40 seconds left. He finished third in MVP voting earlier in the day, but Antetokounmpo played like an MVP when it mattered. He was 3 of 20 from the 3-point line before launching that long ball, with the Bucks trailing by 3 in the final two minutes. The Celtics responded by settling down. Another clutch 3-pointer from Jrue Holiday, tying the game. After Antetokounmpo missed a potential free throw with 14.2 seconds left, Bobby Portis squeezed between Smart and Jaylen Brown for the go-ahead put-back. Smart then returned to his hero ball ways, driving the lane and practically handing the ball to Holiday, who blocked his shot, snatched the ball and batted it outside of Smart's bounds. It ruined a feat by the Celtics, who were the better team in the series for about 41 minutes. But all that hard work and execution was wasted when they proved futile in the final seven minutes. The Celtics scored 8 points in the Finals from 6:48 as the Bucks seemed to convert every key shot, and when they missed, they certainly collected the offensive rebound. They grabbed 17 offensive rebounds, the most from Milwaukee since December 4. Portis grabbed seven and made up for an evening off shooting by outclassing the Celtics in paint. "It was about pride," Warden Marcus Smart said. "And they beat us with those 17 offensive rebounds. If we unpack, we win the game. They're the defending champions, they've played a few league games and now we have to react. And now they're on the brink, a brilliant season in jeopardy if they don't react and win Game 6 in Milwaukee. Although the Celtics have been resilient this season and always seem to respond to tough losses with big wins, this was perhaps their most difficult. They staggered the Bucks, played with more energy and passion, but obviously forgot that old boxing adage that you have to KO the champion to beat the champion. The Celtics attempted to stall the final rounds for a split decision. They were TKO'd in the final seconds. The Celtics have proven in this series that they are better than the Bucks up to the key moments. Antetokounmpo and Holiday decided that game with buckets at the last minute. The Celtics lacked such heroic deeds in this series, these final games. There will be games where you have to win ugly, where a steal, blocked shot or yes, offensive rebound make the difference. The Celtics made the mistake of slacking off when they should have held out, becoming too cute with possession or settling for contested shots rather than attacking the rim. Boston was in bonus for the last 8 minutes, 1 second of the fourth quarter. Instead, the Celtics attempted four free throws in that span, all by Jayson Tatum. This was a swing game in this series. The Celtics had won two of their last three and lost in the closing seconds of Game 3. They had all the momentum and backed him up with excellent basketball in Game 5 until they succumbed to the steadfastness of a defending champion. Much like losses to the Miami Heat in the NBA bubble, the Celtics had that game taken away from them by a hungrier team, a team that never backed down because you can't back down in playoff games. This is where games count, when every possession counts, every loose ball and rebound needs to be pursued with vigour. The Celtics forgot that in the last six minutes and well, now they've lost just one more loss. “Guys will be mad at the result; We played them three and a half quarters," said Celtics coach Ime Udoka. It's going to be disheartening when the Celtics have to point out that one game, that six-minute meltdown, why their season ended early, why they were good enough to make the NBA Finals but came two rounds short, because they lost the principles had forgotten which put them on the verge of winning this series. There's a stain that never gets erased with playoff losses like this — just ask some of these aging NBA legends who can break down plays from a playoff loss 40 years ago. The only way the Celtics can make up for that failure is to respond with a vengeance in Milwaukee on Friday. But do they still have enough determination to bring this series back to Boston?


Marcus Smart's mistakes emerge as Celtic's Game 5 collapsed against Bucks at the worst possible moments

Marcus Smart's heroic tendencies backfired at the Celtics during a heartbreaking Game 5 loss to Bucks. (Author: Gardener)

BucksBOSTON — A second look at the Celtics' dramatic 110-107 loss in Game 5 to the Milwaukee Bucks made one thing clear: This was a team loss. Everyone had their moments to help the hosts give up a 14-point lead in the last 10 minutes of regulation. Jaylen Brown couldn't keep up with Jrue Holiday's game-defining 3 in the transition period. Al Horford was beaten by smaller players at boxouts who failed to execute a play from a time-out with 11 seconds remaining on average. All of this helped the Bucks slowly but surely erase the Celtics' 14-point lead in the fourth quarter. As in countless moments in recent years, Marcus Smart was quite prominent in the crunch time for the Celtics at the offensive end of the floor. Boston still had a 98 percent chance of winning, according to ESPN Stats and Info, while holding a six-point lead with just under two minutes to go. After an outstanding offensive night in the first 46 minutes of this competition, Smart's nightmare mistakes resurfaced at the decisive moment of the competition and paved the way for a disastrous end for Boston. Jrue Holiday attempts to drive Smart out of a time-out by elbowing Smart in the chest on the take before serving up Bobby Portis for a corner 3. Smart sells the collision hard, flies wide and effectively takes himself out of the game. Portis missed the shot but Wesley Matthews beats Al Horford to the loose ball. Smart is back in the game at this point and feels good enough to box Bobby Portis low but it doesn't matter. Smart selling of the contact got him out of a key rebound sequence in a night that killed Boston on the glass in the fourth quarter. Not a good bet from the point guard to start a tough last two minutes for the team. The Celtics corral a rebound after Portis misses a rabbit and a putback. Smart brings the ball up and runs the clock before getting a screen from Al Horford as the Celtics target Bobby Portis in the pick-and-roll. Smart makes a deft move to get Portis behind him, but then gets greedy from there. However, Matthews is able to undress him, resulting in a Bucks steal. Ime Udoka called a game from the touchline at this point, but Smart clearly wanted to be a scorer versus a passer here, and that's not what has consistently won Boston games during the team's turnaround. Instead, the Bucks were started on the break. Which brings us to perhaps the most egregious part of this sequence: Smart and Jaylen Brown don't hit the floor. They were probably gassed at the time, but they ran like it was a Wednesday night regular season game, not a potential East Finals ticket. Both aimlessly drifting into the suit, failing in a 3-point play at the 3-point line to a trailing and scorching Jrue Holiday. After the unusual collision on defensive rebound (not worth blaming there for two guys rushing to save the ball), the Celtics had a chance to regain the lead. We've covered the glitch here at MassLive before, but it's fair to note that it wasn't until Game 1 of the postseason that Smart had shown signs that he wanted to persist at those spots more than he did in the win over the nets with the C's exciting comeback struck. Smart tried to make something out of thin air at this point, but that really wasn't necessary given the time left on the watch. Tunnel vision here hurt Smart as Pat Connaughton and Jrue Holiday collapsed on his drive, preventing Boston's best offensive players from touching the ball at a critical point. "The piece was actually JT was supposed to come and get it," Smart said. "But everyone was just standing around and we didn't have timeouts and there was a five-second count along the way, so I just opened up and tried to make a game. Jrue was of good help. A review of the film here shows that the Celtics got a bit of the gift after the inbounds. Wesley Matthews slips (a constant problem on the Garden Floor all night) while trying to tag Jayson Tatum, giving the all-star forward a clear lane down the right side of the floor with only Giannis Antetokounmpo standing behind Bucks basket. Smart gets the ball back from Horford after an inbound but doesn't see a wide open tatum hurtling up the floor. Instead, he loses control of his dribbling while going left (away from Tatum), opening the door for Holiday to snatch away the steal and seal the comeback win. There were a lot of mistakes to work around in Game 5 and this wasn't a meltdown like we saw with those Celtics earlier in the season. The Bucks came and took that game as much as the Celtics gave away, with some no-light shooting (6-of-6-of-3), gritty work on the glass, and some lucky jumps to go along with it. Still, it's hard to ignore how the game's biggest mistakes once again came from Smart in what could prove to be a season-defining loss for the Celtics. The Celtics need Smart for his top-flight defense, passing game and ability to knock down an open 3. Smart was a crucial cog in the Celtics' second-half turnaround, but his fatal mistakes showed in a defeat that could well be drowned out in Boston's sporting disgrace some of the team's heroics this weekend.


Bucks Rally, Hand Celtics smash loss putting Boston on brink of elimination

After a devastating loss at home, the Celtics must regroup and take out the defending champions in Milwaukee to salvage their season. (Author: Gardener)

Bucks RallyGiannis Antetokounmpo posted a game-high 40 points, Jrue Holiday recorded 24 points with eight rebounds and eight assists, and he made two clutch defensive plays to help the Bucks deal the Celtics a devastating loss on their home ground. Part of what made the loss so crushing for the hosts was that the Celtics played an excellent team defense against Milwaukee early on, but playing small, they gave up 17 offensive rebounds that translated into 20-second chance points for the Bucks transformed. As you'll see in the in-depth look at Game 5, the Celtics played well for most of the night. Jrue Holiday then conceded from beyond the arc, and Wesley Matthews did the same a few possessions later to give Milwaukee an early 9-2 lead. Luckily for Boston, Jayson Tatum countered Matthew's three with one at the other end. At the 8:42 mark, a Giannis Antetokounmpo vault from 16 feet provided the first shot the Bucks attempted from the arc. Playing at 7:24, Jaylen Brown, who had hit a three a few possessions earlier, drove the baseline and hammered home a two-hand jam to cut the Celtics' deficit to 11-10. About halfway through the quarter, the Celtics produced multiple drive-and-kicks to keep Milwaukee's defense rotating, resulting in a drop pass from Marcus Smart to Horford for two points on the edge. The next time, Tatum climbed into a 19-foot pull-up jumper and buried him, giving the home team their first advantage, 14-13. Coming from a time-out to maintain possession after Brown fell when George Hill pulled the chair out from under him as he tackled the basket, Smart knocked down a long two from 23 feet and put Boston within three, 19 -16, with 3:44 left. On the ensuing fast break, Smart faked a pass to Tatum, got the Bucks to take the cheese and then pocketed it to give Boston a 20-19 lead. With just over a minute to go, Derrick White rushed downhill and threw an alley-oop to Daniel Theis, making it a 28-26 game in Milwaukee's favour. Despite 2/11 on threes, the Celtics shot 50 percent from the field and produced 14 points in the paint on their other 13 shots. Antetokounmpo initiated the second-quarter goal, capitalizing on a mismatch that left White and Payton Pritchard the closest defenders on the rim as he worked his way to a layup that gave the Bucks a 30-26 advantage. After Horford picked up a pass from Allen who was trying to force the ball to Antetokounmpo, Tatum got a layup at the other end. Tatum buried a three to put Boston ahead 33-32, 10:24 left. At the 8:34 mark, White produced a second straight layup and extended the Celtics' lead to 37-32. After a Milwaukee timeout, the lack of a powerful boxout against Antetokounmpo meant he thunderously laid down a put-back jam after a Holiday missed three to reduce the Bucks' deficit to 37-34. With 7:46 left, Derrick White countered with a three, giving him nine points on 4/4 shooting and raising Boston by six, 40-34. At 5:23 on the game clock, Derrick White came into the middle of the floor and then kicked the ball behind him to Theis for a three, which extended the Celtics' lead to 45-38. On the hosts' ensuing possession, Brown attacked Antetokounmpo from the right corner, pulled him out of dribbling, came to the edge and put the ball in on the right, taking Boston's lead to 47-38. Then, after a three-second injury to Antetokounmpo, Brown almost posterized Brook Lopez. While the dunk didn't stay down, he was fouled and made both free throws, part of a 9-0 run that put the Celtics to 11, their biggest lead. Holiday was then undressed as he tried to force his way through Smart and Horford; Smart threw the ball diagonally forward to Brown, who lofted an alley-oop to Tatum that sent the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy. It also extended Boston's lead to 51-38, forcing Mike Budenholzer to call a time-out. The Bucks scored the following four points, but Smart countered an Antetokounmpo layup with a three to put the Celtics 2-13 ahead, 54-42. Antetokounmpo then scored five straight points to bring Milwaukee within seven, 54-47. The Celtics shot 48.8 percent from the field despite going from across the arc at the break 6/21 (28.6 percent). Boston scored 24 points in the color in the first two quarters. Jayson Tatum led the Celtics by 16 points. Boston has also done an excellent job of staying active and challenging shots defensively. While Antetokounmpo passed everyone with 19 points, the Bucks shot 39.6 percent from the field and 4/16 (25 percent) on threes. But the home side also forced the defending champions to nine turnovers compared to just two from the Celtics, and they converted those errors into 11 points at the other end. Early in the second half, Brown drove, found Horford for an open three from the right corner, and Brown then snapped the miss and got a put back layup to extend Boston's lead to 57-46. At the 9:58 mark, Tatum drove and caught a shot from 9 feet but complained about the lack of a foul call, giving the Bucks an advantage at the other end that led to a Wesley Matthews three-pointer to the Bucks to bring within six. 58-52. With 9:22 left, Brown fouled Antetokounmpo for his third personal goal. The former league MVP missed both free throws, but Lopez grabbed the rebound and Holiday hit a three-pointer to level the score at 58-55. A little over a minute later, Antetokounmpo missed a three but Matthews got the rebound, he couldn't score but the Bucks kept possession alive. Holiday fired a shot from beyond the arc, but Allen corralled the miss, and Lopez knocked down a middle jumper to make it a one-point play, 60-59, with 7:38 remaining. With 6:47 to go, Brown attacked the basket, missed the layup but got his rebound and scored the second time, extending Boston's lead to 62-59. After that, nice ball movement from Boston saw Smart Connaughton fool and sidestep a three that put the Celtics ahead by six and prompted coach Budenholzer to call a time-out. At the 3:34 mark, Brown drilled a pull-up jumper from 19 feet, extending Boston's lead to 73-68. He then earned a trip to the free throw line, where he conceded on both tries to give the home team a 75-68 lead. With 2:14 to go, Smart spun and sprayed his third three, earning him 15 points on 6/9 shooting, including 3/4 from beyond the arc. Brown hit a three on the Celtics' ensuing possession, benefiting from a smooth substitution from Allen. And he stayed hot, taking Allen out of the dribbling for two more points with a mid-range pull-up. This left Boston with an 83-72 advantage with 1:16. Then, after two Antetokounmpo free throws, Connaughton forced a jump ball between him and Brown. The latter won the tip, then got the ball from Grant Williams and buried a deep three to extend the hosts' lead to 86-74 with 41.5 seconds on the game clock. Brown scored 16 points and dished out four assists in the third quarter. Antetokounmpo matched Brown's three and the Celtics went into the final frame with an 86-77 lead. Defending champions win with hustle plays and hot shooting in the fourth quarter A minute into the fourth quarter, Tatum hit the basket hard for a layup and a foul on George Hill. He made the following free throw, giving Boston a 91-79 lead. Then, after Williams held his ground and drew a charge from Antetokounmpo, Tatum found Pritchard for a fadeaway seven-foot jumper when the shot clock ran out. That gave the Celtics a 93-79 advantage and prompted coach Budenholzer to stop play in hopes of regrouping and halting the home team's momentum. After the time-out, Milwaukee had great possession, moving the ball and eventually converting a paint touch from Holiday into an open three for Connaughton over the break. But Tatum responded with a thunderous jam on the other end, taking Connaughton's dribble off the top of the button. That gave Boston a 95-82 lead with 9:27 to play. After that, Holiday knocked down a three and Tatum hit 1/2 at the free throw line, making it a 96-85 game in the hosts' favour. Pritchard then countered a dunk by Antetokounmpo with another knight within ten feet, extending the Celtics' lead to 98-87 with 8:15 on the clock. With 6:04 left after the Celtics failed to convert in the transition period after White blocked Antetokounmpo, the culmination of the team's great defense, Matthews drilled a three from the left corner to make it a 99-95 game. About a minute later, Tatum buried a middle-class jumper as he fell to the ground. With that, Boston extended the lead to 101:95 and coach Budenholzer took a break. After the break, Antetokounmpo scored, a Brown bank shot didn't go under and Holiday hit a 19-foot jumper over Smart to make it a 101-99 play. Smart then took an elbow from Antetokounmpo as he walked to the screen for Holiday. It was Antetokounmpo's fourth foul and second on offense. With 2:12 remaining, Brown missed a pull-up from 22 feet, but Horford, whom the Bucks made the mistake of not boxing out, swooped in and hit a put-back jam home, giving the Celtics a 105-99 lead. To make matters worse for Milwaukee, Connaughton elbowed Antetokounmpo while attempting to contest Horford's dunk, slicing him open near his eye. Portis then missed a knight but Matthews parried the miss and Antetokounmpo threw down an open three from above the break to make it a three-pointer with 1:40 left. And after a smart turnover, Holiday buried a three to tie the game at 105 with 43.2 seconds on the clock. Tatum then earned a trip to the free-throw line, where he took both foul shots to regain the lead for Boston, 107-105, with 31.1 seconds left. Antetokounmpo then got to the charity streak when Williams hit him in the arm as he tried to take a shot over Williams and Horford. Antetokounmpo went 1/2, but Portis grabbed the rebound and extended the put back to give Milwaukee a 108-107 lead by 11.4 seconds. Smart then got the inbounds, driving the baseline on Connaughton, but Holiday came over the top to block his shot and then threw the ball from Smart to get the ball back for the Bucks with 6.6 on the clock. Boston fouled Connaughton on a 5.9 inbounds pass to play. Holiday made another clutch defensive play and took out Smart to seal the win for the Bucks. Milwaukee ended the game on a 23-9 run, surpassing the hosts' 11-2 in the final two minutes. The Celtics shot 51.2 percent from the field and scored 50 points in paint. Tatum led Boston with 34 points, and he grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. The Celtics also did a great job with their initial defense against the defending champion. Aside from turnovers, the problem standing in the way of expanding their leads, even in the late stages, was not being able to keep the Bucks off the glass. Milwaukee converted 17 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Working against a defense that had to reset itself also helped the Bucks shoot 6/6 on threes in the fourth quarter. Between earning and capitalizing on extra possessions and Holiday's defensive plays in the end, the rush plays the Bucks made proved crucial to the outcome. Game 6 between the Celtics and Bucks takes place on Friday night. The top 5 plays from Game 4 between Celtics and Bucks


Holiday, Portis combine for incredible finish as Milwaukee completes comeback

Bucks 110, Celtics 107: Holiday, Portis combine for incredible finish as Milwaukee completes comeback (Author: Gardener)

MilwaukeeBOSTON — The Milwaukee Bucks will head home after a rousing 110-107 comeback win over the Boston Celtics Wednesday night at the TD Garden and have a shot at making the Eastern Conference Finals. After falling 14 points early in the fourth quarter, Bobby Portis and Jrue Holiday did the unthinkable in the final moments of the game to give the Bucks a 3-2 lead over the Celtics. "It's a big win," Holiday said. First, Portis assisted on a Holiday three-pointer to tie the game at 105 with 41 seconds left. After Jayson Tatum gave the Celtics a 107-105 lead with two free throws with 31 seconds left, Portis came to the rescue of Giannis Antetokounmpo by recoating a missed free throw to make Milwaukee 108-107 with 11.4 seconds left . Milwaukee Bucks guard Jrue Holiday blocks a shot by Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart in the dying seconds of Game 5 Wednesday night. On the inbound that followed, Holiday Marcus Smart literally took the ball out of his hands when the Boston guard tried to kick it and snatched it out of the air. This resulted in a timeout from Bucks and two free throws from Pat Connaughton for 110:107 five seconds still. Holiday then claimed the win by stealing the ball from Smart. "Big time, big time play, great block and was able to keep his balance and stay on the pitch," said Antetokounmpo. "Then at the end of the game he got that steal again from Marcus Smart. The Bucks came back from a 14-point deficit early in the fourth quarter to go the game 105-105 with a Holiday three-pointer at 43.2 Seconds to tie, and Bobby Portis hit the game winner with an offensive rebound. It feels good, but at the end of the day we can't get too high and we can't get too low," said Antetokounmpo. We have one at home and hopefully we can go there and position ourselves to win, enjoy the game as much as possible, compete and play good basketball." The Celtics built their nine-point lead by 10 minutes and Out to 93-79 with 16 seconds to go but a handful of threes from Holiday, Connaughton and Wesley Matthews sparked a Bucks rally as they cut them to 101-99 with 4:08 left got some guys to make some plays," Budenholzer said of that stretch. "I thought Giannis as a playmaker, Giannis as a backside host led us to some good things. "I thought Grayson (Allen) did in the quarter too made some good plays It just takes a little bit of everything to turn around a 13 or 14 point game."So we have to try not to put ourselves in that position but just play our best and you have to have a few shot e do, you need to do some three-pointers and give credit to Grayson, PC and Wes for their game and shots. It appeared Boston had stemmed the tide after Al Horford shared Antetokounmpo and Connaughton for a tip slam from a missed jumper by Jaylen Brown to make it 105-99, 2-13. But Antetokounmpo hit a catch-and-shoot three-pointer to get his team back in the game and then came down and stole the ball from Smart to set up Holiday's exploits. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the 14-point lead for Boston's biggest fourth quarter of a playoff game has been the same in the past 25 postseasons. Antetokounmpo scored 40 points on 16-of-27 shooting and also grabbed 11 rebounds. Holiday scored 24 points on 9-of-24 shooting and had eight assists and rebounds, while Portis came off the bench and had 14 on 4-of-14 shooting. Connaughton added 13 points from the bench. Tatum led the Celtics with 34 points on 12-of-29 shooting while Brown had 26. Smart finished at 15, while Daniel Theis (11) and Derrick White (nine) provided sparks off the bench. Horford was limited to eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. For about 4 ½ minutes, the Bucks pushed onto the offensive glass, spinning fiercely on defense while hitting a couple of three-pointers to gradually reduce a seven-point deficit to one at halftime - only to watch the Celtics ended the third quarter with runs of 11. 4 and 10-2 to lead by up to a dozen before finally going into the fourth quarter at 86-77. Brown went 6 for 10 from the field - including several hard counters - to score 16 points and keep the Bucks at a distance. The Celtics countered the Bucks' intensity to keep the visitors from taking the lead, with Tatum and Brown notching their own misses twice to quell the Bucks' momentum. As the quarter progressed, Boston got timely baskets from Smart and Theis to complement Brown, and Antetokounmpo needed five points in the last 65 seconds to keep the Celtics from running away with it. Milwaukee opened the game with 3 of their first 4 threes in the first two minutes of play - but then went 1 for 12 for the rest of the half as Boston went 54-47 at the break. The Celtics also grabbed 11 points from nine Bucks turnovers while turning it over just twice as they led by as many 13 in the first half. Antetokounmpo scored 19 of the Bucks' points while Holiday added nine, but the other six players who saw the game time combined for just 19 points. And after a 3-on-4 start to the game, Holiday missed his last five shots of the first half for Milwaukee. It was a different story for the Celtics, who took 16 points from Tatum but saw White and Theis contribute nine each from the bench. The even scoring — and ball movement (14 assists to 21 baskets) — helped the Celtics run 7-0, 11-0 in the second quarter to take control of the half after the Bucks took a 28-26 lead thereafter had taken over First Quarter. The early threes helped Milwaukee build a seven-point lead and they retained a slight advantage on the scoreboard throughout the first 12 minutes, but the game turned in the second quarter when White and Theis pinned the Celtics' try in the second. Khris Middleton remained a spectator with a left knee injury during games as the Bucks progressed through the series against the Celtics, but he has been able to come onto the court in recent days. "We feel good where he is and we're optimistic," said Budenholzer ahead of Wednesday's game. He was immediately eliminated from the first four games of the Boston Series, but Budenholzer would not do so for the remainder of the series against the Celtics. Game 6 takes place in Milwaukee on Friday. More: Bob Lanier, who spent the final seasons of his Hall of Fame career with the Milwaukee Bucks, dies at the age of 73. This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bucks 110, Celtics 107: Holiday, Portis combine for an incredible finish as Milwaukee completes their comeback


Celtic seal Scottish title, Wolves 1-5 Man City, Leeds 0-3 Chelsea

Clock: Kevin De Bruyne guided Man City past Wolves, Leeds lost at home to Chelsea and Celtic were crowned champions (Author: Gardener)

Man CityWhen you score four goals, that's something special. My right foot is my stronger foot, but I'm never afraid to shoot with my left. We know we have a small advantage [over Liverpool] but we need to recover and be ready for West Ham. Madrid is very difficult to explain. It's not that we played badly. I do not know what happened. It's not pretty, but we have to keep going. My favorite goal tonight was the third. Wolves 1-4 Manchester City: A shocking miss from Sterling! Not that it matters much, but it's really fascinating how the 27-year-old didn't knock on the back post after Foden's spot-on cross from the left. Instead, the ball wobbles under Sterling's foot and dribbles wide. Moments later, De Bruyne receives a yellow card for cynically stopping a Wolves counterattack. I'd say it was a blemish on his performance but Pep will probably see that as a very good foul to concede given City were outnumbered. Grealish comes on for Foden and will be given a 'warm' welcome on his return to the West Midlands. It's not entirely his fault but Grealish is everything that's wrong with City, £100m, let's give him ten minutes at 4-1. Raheem Sterling waits at the back post while the ball hits Wolverhampton Wanderers goalkeeper Jose Sa , flies by... Photo: Peter Cziborra/Action Images/Reuters Leeds' Kalvin Phillips faces the cameras: It was very difficult. I don't know if it's nerves. But the pressure is there, we know that. But we played against a world class team tonight. All we can do is look forward to the Brighton game and try to rest. The performances haven't been good enough this season but we have to try to make the fans happy. Wolves 1-4 Manchester City: Foden hits the post! De Bruyne will be provider this time. Wolves' defenders are drawn in by Bernardo Silva on the right, but De Bruyne goes left into a large space with Foden. The Englishman gets through clean, stabilizes and finds the foot of the near post. The ball rebounds and the Wolves clear. Foden really should have scored there. He had all the time in the world to find the right finish and got it wrong (by about an inch). Lukaku has his goal that has jeopardized his performance despite almost making a meal at the finish. Werner crosses flat to the Belgian, who should have finished first, but instead got touched, or rather five of them, in the six-yard box. Leeds defenders throw themselves furiously in front of Lukaku but the big No9 takes his time before putting his shot into the roof of the net! Leeds 0-2 Chelsea: Raphinha down with suspected injury This night couldn't really get any worse for Leeds. Dan James will be suspended for the remainder of the season and they cannot afford to have their best attacker sidelined. They need the Brazilian for the last two games and it looks like he's doing fine, although it looks like Marsch will substitute him as a precaution. Yes, he will step out for Gelhardt. Rumors of a move to Barcelona continue to grow and he will certainly leave if Leeds are actually relegated. Leeds United manager Jesse Marsch speaks to Raphinha as he is substituted. It is a goal made of absolutely nothing and all by himself. De Bruyne snatches the ball from Neves, drives into space and left-footed a howitzer deep in the bottom corner before dropping the Haaland cheer to safety. Well I think that wins the weaker foot argument. It's a 17-minute hat-trick for the Belgian and his first since 2011 when he played for [email protected] In the early years after De Bruyne came to Man City, I used to think he was left-footed. It wasn't until a year or two ago that I discovered he was right footed. City ahead again! De Bruyne makes the difference again. Wolves just can't hold back City's No. 17, who pauses from the deep and flicks the ball towards Sterling. The Englishman fails to reach the ball, which bounces off a rushing José Sá and De Bruyne devours the rebound: his shot is deflected from the penalty spot into the top corner. City are three points clear at the top of the table again if this continues. Kevin De Bruyne gives the visitors the lead for the second time of the evening. Photo: Rui Vieira/APHere is the view of the goal from the other end of the field. Photo: Peter Powell/Reuters