The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics 103-101 at home in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Saturday to take a 2-1 series lead.
The Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks fought for all 48 minutes of Game 3 on Saturday, but it was the Bucks who came away with the slim 103-101 victory in a game that ended in some controversy.
With the Celtics trailing by late in the game, Marcus Smart attempted a potential game-tying three-point shot with 4.6 seconds remaining and he was fouled.
However, the referees ruled this was a non-shooting foul on Milwaukee, which resulted in two free-throws instead of three for Smart.
After making the first free-throw, Smart intentionally missed the second one perfectly and after a missed tip-in, Al Horford grabbed the offensive rebound for Boston and tipped the ball in to tie the game and force overtime… Or so they thought.
The referees immediately went to review this potential game-tying tip-in by Horford and they determined that the ball was still on the veteran’s fingertips as the clock expired, meaning that the game was over and the Bucks held on to win by two points.
Now leading this series 2-1, the Bucks will host the Celtics for one more game on Monday, a game that could very well determine this series.
Milwaukee potentially going up 3-1 would really put Boston’s backs up against the wall and could be too much of a deficit for them to come back from against the defending champions.
Game 3 turned out to be a huge home win for the Milwaukee Bucks and this is what we learned from this game.
Defense has been the Boston Celtics’ identity all season long and over the course of the year, Grant Williams has really come into his own as a valuable defensive player.
Taking on the assignment of guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, something that is impossible for anyone in this league, Williams actually held his own most of the game and drew a couple of fouls on the two-time MVP.
According to NBA Advanced Stats, Grant Williams is holding opponents to just 0.38 points per isolation possession in the postseason, ranking him as one of the best isolation defenders in the league.
All-around, Williams has really stepped up for the Celtics this season and especially in the playoffs. His versatility and ability to keep the ball in front of him is why Boston trusts him guarding Giannis in this series and while the Bucks’ MVP has been dominant, Williams has done a really good job thus far.
A true “3-and-D” player on the wing, Williams is really starting to come into his own as a key rotational player for the Celtics.
Not having Khris Middleton has really limited the Bucks’ offense and while Giannis Antetokounmpo has continued to be a problem for teams to defend, so has Jrue Holiday as of late.
Over his last five games, Holiday has scored at least 25 points three different times and is averaging 21.0 points per game while shooting 38.1% from the floor.
Holiday has done a great job of not only making shots from the perimeter against the Celtics, but he has really taken advantage of the way they are defending him.
Going under screens and not always staying attached to him, Jrue Holiday has been able to drive to the basket on multiple occasions and he seemed to get to his spots with ease in Game 3.
Finishing with 25 points on 11-30 from the floor, Holiday was very confident with the ball in his hands and while he did struggle at times with his shot, he just kept playing to his strengths.
Attacking the paint and being able to knock down a handful of mid-range shots, Jrue Holiday has really put pressure on the Boston Celtics in this series.
With Middleton still out and likely out for the remainder of this series, Holiday is going to have to continue being an elite-level offensive weapon alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo.
No matter what you do to try and defend him, Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to find a way to score.
While he has started out slow at times in the first-half, giving a slight advantage to the Boston Celtics, Giannis has been dominant in the second-half of games in this series, leading to the Bucks being able to have a major advantage offensively in the second-half.
His aggressiveness in this series versus Boston has been too much for the Celtics to handle at times and in Game 3, Giannis once again proved to everyone why he is the best player in the world.
The two-time MVP finished with 42 points (16-30 FG), 12 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks in Game 3 on Saturday and the most impressive thing for Antetokounmpo was the fact that he went 9-12 from the free-throw line.
Milwaukee has really taken advantage of the third quarters in this series, outscoring Boston by 17 points in the third quarter of Game 3 and Giannis Antetokounmpo was a key weapon.
He scored 11 of the Bucks’ 34 points in the third quarter and in the second-half, Giannis scored a total of 22 points. All game long, Antetokounmpo looked to attack the undersized Celtics and he found a lot of success getting to the rim.
Grant Williams has not done a bad job on Giannis, nor has veteran Al Horford, but the Celtics do not have anyone that can contain the Bucks’ All-Star, which is why he will continue to dominate in this series.
Brett Siegel joined FastBreak on Fan Nation in April 2022 after previously covering the NBA for NBA Analysis Network and working with Louisville Basketball, aiding in daily operations, scouting and recruiting. From playing to coaching to covering the game as a credentialed NBA media member, Brett has been involved with the game of basketball from many different perspectives. Breaking the news of Andre Drummond signing with the Lakers in 2021, as well as other key stories around the league, Brett is always on the phone, getting the latest news and rumors around the NBA. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @BrettSiegelNBA.