What Stood Out from Game 5: Bucks Rally, Hand Celtics Crushing Loss, Putting Boston on Brink of Elimination

What Stood Out from Game 5: Bucks Rally, Hand Celtics Crushing Loss, Putting Boston on Brink of Elimination

Published May 12, 2022
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David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After a devastating defeat on their home floor, the Celtics have to regroup and knock off the defending champions in Milwaukee to save their season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 40 points, Jrue Holiday registered 24 to go with eight rebounds and eight assists, and he made a pair of clutch defensive plays to help the Bucks rally to hand the Celtics a devastating loss on their home floor.

A part of what made the defeat so crushing for the host’s is that the Celtics played terrific initial team defense against Milwaukee but playing small, they gave up 17 offensive rebounds that turned into 20-second chance points for the Bucks.

As you’ll see in the deep dive into Game 5, the Celtics played well for most of the night. They just couldn’t finish the job. 

Both Teams Hoist a High Volume of Threes in the Opening Frame

Grayson Allen opened the game with a three from the left-wing. Al Horford responded with a baseline mid-range jumper.

Jrue Holiday then cashed in from beyond the arc, and Wesley Matthews did the same a few possessions later to give Milwaukee an early 9-2 lead. Fortunately for Boston, Jayson Tatum countered Matthews’ three with one at the other end.

At the 8:42 mark, a Giannis Antetokounmpo jumper from 16-feet represented the first shot the Bucks attempted from inside the arc.

With 7:24 to play, Jaylen Brown, who hit a three a few possessions earlier, drove baseline and hammered home a two-handed jam to trim the Celtics’ deficit to 11-10.

About halfway through the quarter, the Celtics produced multiple drive-and-kicks to keep Milwaukee’s defense in rotation, leading to a drop pass from Marcus Smart to Horford for two points at the rim. 

The next time down, Tatum stepped into a 19-foot pull-up jumper and buried it, giving the home team its first advantage, 14-13.

Coming out of a timeout to preserve the possession after Brown fell when George Hill pulled the chair from under him as he attacked the basket, Smart knocked down a long two from 23-feet, bringing Boston within three, 19-16, with 3:44 remaining.

Pat Connaughton then retrieved a Bobby Portis airball but got stripped by Tatum. In the ensuing fast break, Smart faked a pass to Tatum, got the Bucks to take the cheese, then laid it in to put Boston ahead 20-19. 

With slightly over a minute left, Derrick White charged downhill and lobbed an alley-oop to Daniel Theis, making it a 28-26 game in favor of Milwaukee.

That was the score as the quarter came to a close. Despite going 2/11 on threes, the Celtics shot 50 percent from the field, producing 14 points in the paint on their other 13 shots.

The Celtics were at their Best in the Second Quarter

Antetokounmpo kicked off the second-quarter scoring, taking advantage of a mismatch with White and Payton Pritchard being the nearest defender to the rim as he plowed his way to a layup that gave the Bucks a 30-26 advantage.

After Horford picked off a pass from Allen, who tried to force the ball to Antetokounmpo, Tatum got a layup at the other end. Tatum buried a three to put Boston ahead 33-32 with 10:24 left.

At the 8:34 mark, White produced a second-straight layup, extending the Celtics’ lead to 37-32.

After a Milwaukee timeout, the lack of a forceful boxout on Antetokounmpo resulted in him thunderously throwing down a put-back jam after a Holiday missed three to cut 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 putting Boston up by six, 40-34.

With 5:23 on the game clock, Derrick White got into the middle of the floor and then kicked the ball behind him to Theis for a three that extended the Celtics’ advantage to 45-38.

On the host’s following possession, Brown attacked Antetokounmpo from the right corner, taking him off the dribble, getting to the rim, and laying the ball in on the right side, bringing Boston’s lead to 47-38.

Then, after an Antetokounmpo three-second violation, Brown nearly posterized Brook Lopez. While the dunk didn’t stay down, he got fouled and made both free throws, part of a 9-0 run that put the Celtics up 11, their largest lead.

Holiday then got stripped as he tried to force his way through Smart and Horford; Smart threw the ball diagonally ahead to Brown, who lofted an alley-oop to Tatum that sent the TD Garden crowd into a frenzy. It also extended Boston’s advantage to 51-38 and forced Mike Budenholzer to take a timeout.

The Bucks scored the following four points, but Smart countered an Antetokounmpo layup with a three, putting the Celtics up 54-42 with 2:13 remaining.

Antetokounmpo then scored five-straight points, bringing Milwaukee within seven, 54-47. That was the score entering halftime. White nearly got a fast-break layup at the buzzer, his fingertips were on the ball, and it correctly got waved off.

The Celtics were shooting 48.8 percent from the field despite going 6/21 (28.6 percent) from beyond the arc at the break. Their ball and player movement were excellent, consistently getting into the teeth of the defense and producing points from there. Boston generated 24 points in the paint in the first two quarters.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 16 points. Brown had nine. So did White and Theis, who were both terrific off the bench.

Boston also did an outstanding job staying active and challenging shots defensively. While Antetokounmpo outpaced everyone with 19 points, the Bucks shot 39.6 percent from the field, and 4/16 (25 percent) on threes. However, they did score 26 points in the paint.

But the home team also forced nine turnovers from the defending champions, compared to only two from the Celtics, and they converted those errors into 11 points at the other end.

Jaylen Brown Takes Over the Third Quarter

To start the second half, Brown drove, found Horford for an open three from the right corner, and Brown then grabbed the miss and got a put-back layup to extend Boston’s lead to 57-46.

At the 9:58 mark, Tatum drove and hit a shot from 9-feet but complained about the lack of a foul call, giving the Bucks an advantage at the other end that translated to a Wesley Matthews three to bring the Bucks within six, 58-52.

With 9:22 to play, Brown fouled Antetokounmpo, picking up his third personal. The former league MVP missed both free throws, but Lopez grabbed the rebound, and Holiday hit a three to get the score to 58-55.

Slightly over a minute later, Antetokounmpo missed a three, but Matthews got the rebound, he couldn’t score, but the Bucks kept the possession alive. Holiday bricked a shot from beyond the arc, but Allen corralled the miss, and Lopez knocked down a mid-range jumper to make it a one-point game, 60-59, with 7:38 remaining.

With 6:47 left, Brown attacked the basket, missed the layup, but got his rebound and scored the second time, extending Boston’s lead to 62-59.

The two teams then traded a pair of layups each, making it a 66-63 game. After that, beautiful ball movement by Boston led to Smart up-faking Connaughton and swishing a side-step three, putting the Celtics ahead by six and prompting coach Budenholzer to take a timeout.

At the 3:34 mark, Brown drilled a pull-up jumper from 19-feet, extending Boston’s advantage to 73-68. He then earned a trip to the free-throw line, where he cashed in both attempts to put the home team ahead 75-68.

With 2:14 to go, Smart spun and splashed his third three, giving him 15 points on 6/9 shooting, including 3/4 from beyond the arc. 

Brown connected on a three on the Celtics’ following possession, capitalizing on a soft switch from Allen. 

And he stayed hot, taking Allen off the dribble for two more points on a mid-range pull-up. That gave Boston an 83-72 advantage with 1:16 left.

Then, after a pair of 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 host’s lead to 86-74 with 41.5 seconds on the game clock. Brown scored 16 points and distributed four assists in the third quarter.

Antetokounmpo matched Brown’s three, and the Celtics took an 86-77 lead into the final frame. 

Defending Champions Win with Hustle Plays and Hot Shooting in the Fourth Quarter

A minute into the fourth quarter, Tatum went hard to the basket for a layup and a foul on George Hill. He made the ensuing free throw, putting Boston ahead 91-79.

Then, after Williams stood his ground, drawing a charge from Antetokounmpo, Tatum found Pritchard for a fadeaway seven-foot jumper as the shot clock expired. That gave the Celtics a 93-79 advantage and prompted coach Budenholzer to stop play, hoping to regroup and halt the home team’s momentum.

After the timeout, Milwaukee had a terrific possession, moving the ball, ultimately turning a paint touch from Holiday into an open three for Connaughton from above the break. But Tatum responded with a thunderous jam at the other end, taking Connaughton off the dribble from the top of the key. That gave Boston a 95-82 lead with 9:27 to play.

After that, Holiday knocked down a three and Tatum went 1/2 at the free-throw line, making it a 96-85 game in favor of the hosts. Pritchard then countered an Antetokounmpo dunk with another jumper from within ten-feet, extending the Celtics’ advantage to 98-87 with 8:15 on the clock.

At the 7:38 mark, Connaughton drilled a three to bring Milwaukee within eight, 98-90. That also got Ime Udoka to take a timeout.

With 6:04 left, after the Celtics couldn’t convert in transition following White blocking Antetokounmpo, the culmination of terrific team defense, Matthews drilled a three from the left corner to make it a 99-95 game.

About a minute later, Tatum buried a mid-range jumper as he fell to the floor. That extended Boston’s advantage to 101-95, and coach Budenholzer took a timeout.

Following the break, Antetokounmpo scored, a Brown bank shot didn’t go down, and Holiday hit a 19-foot jumper over Smart, making it a 101-99 game. Tatum responded, getting an attempt from the same distance to go down.

Smart then took an elbow from Antetokounmpo as the latter went to screen for Holiday. That was Antetokounmpo’s fourth foul and second one at the offensive end.

With 2:12 remaining, Brown missed a pull-up from 22-feet, but Horford, who the Bucks made the mistake of not boxing out, swooped in and slammed home a put-back jam, putting the Celtics ahead 105-99. To make matters worse for Milwaukee, Connaughton elbowed Antetokounmpo while trying to contest Horford’s dunk, cutting him open near his eye.

Portis then missed a jumper, but Matthews corralled the miss, and Antetokounmpo knocked down an open three from above the break to make it a three-point game 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 made both foul shots to regain the lead for Boston, 107-105, with 31.1 seconds remaining.

Antetokounmpo then got to the charity stripe as Williams hit him on the arm as he tried to float a shot in over Williams and Horford. Antetokounmpo went 1/2, but Portis grabbed the rebound and banked in the put-back to give Milwaukee a 108-107 lead with 11.4 seconds left.

The Celtics then took their last timeout. Smart then got the inbounds, drove baseline on Connaughton, but Holiday came over the top to block his shot, then threw the ball off Smart to get the Bucks the ball back with 6.6 on the clock.

Boston fouled Connaughton on the inbounds pass with 5.9 to play. He calmly sank both free throws. Holiday made another clutch defensive play, stripping Smart to seal the win for the Bucks.

Milwaukee closed the game on a 23-9 run, including outscoring the host’s 11-2 in the final two minutes.

The Celtics shot 51.2 percent from the field and generated 50 points in the paint. Tatum led Boston with 34 points, and he grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists. Brown scored 26 to go with eight boards and six assists.

The Celtics also did a great job with their initial defense against the defending champions. Along with turnovers, the problem that stood in the way of extending their leads, including in the final stages, is they couldn’t keep the Bucks off the glass. Milwaukee turned 17 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Operating against a defense that had to reset itself also helped the Bucks shoot 6/6 on fourth-quarter threes.

Between earning and capitalizing on extra possessions and Holiday’s clutch defensive plays at the end, the hustle plays that the Bucks made proved to be the difference in the outcome.

Now, the Celtics head to Milwaukee with their season on the line.

Up Next

Game 6 between the Celtics and Bucks is Friday night. Inside The Celtics will have content related to the game coming out before, during, and after. And follow @BobbyKrivitsky on Twitter for updates and analysis from pregame to post.

Further Reading

The Top 5 Plays from Game 4 Between the Celtics and Bucks

Despite late flare-up, Marcus Smart says: ‘The quad is good; I won’t be missing any more games because of it’

What Stood Out in Game 4’s Win: Celtics’ Character on Display as They Rally to Tie the Series

[Film Room] What Led to Jayson Tatum’s Struggles in Game 3 and How the Celtics Get Him Going in Game 4

Ime Udoka Discusses Derrick White’s Impact: ‘the shots are just icing on the cake’

One-on-One with Cameron Look on His Improbable Journey to Designing Jayson Tatum’s Jordans