The Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics 110-107 on the road in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Semifinals series on Wednesday to take a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6.
It is rather unfortunate that the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are in the same conference because their Eastern Conference Semifinals series seems like a battle in the NBA Finals right now!
These two teams have been going at it each and every game of this matchup and very little has separated them. In fact, two games now have been decided in the final minute of the game and in both of these instances, the Bucks won.
On Wednesday night, the Celtics hosted the Bucks for Game 5 of this semifinals series with everything knotted up at 2-2. Boston controlled the pace of play throughout the first-half and they continued to hold things down heading into the fourth quarter up nine points.
Down by 11 points with just over eight minutes left, it looked like Boston was about to run away with this game, but Milwaukee kept hanging around, hitting some clutch shots to give themselves an outside chance at a win. Following a massive offensive rebound and dunk by Al Horford with 2:12 left in the game to put the Celtics up six points, Giannis Antetokiunmpo hit a three-pointer and then Jrue Holiday hit a three-pointer with 42.4 seconds left to tie things up.
Jayson Tatum then hit two free-throws for the Celtics to put them back up two points and then Giannis Antetokounmpo was fouled, sending him to the line for two free-throws and a chance to tie the game. He made the first, but then missed the second free-throw.
All Boston had to do here was get a rebound and they could potentially put this game away, but Bobby Portis grabbed the offensive rebound, put the ball in the hoop and gave the Bucks the lead.
Perhaps the turning point in this game and this series though was when Jrue Holiday blocked Marcus Smart’s shot with 8.1 seconds left.
The Bucks were able to close out Game 5 on the road, earning their second road victory in this series and they now hold a 3-2 series lead heading back to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Friday.
This was an absolutely incredible game and there is so much to talk about from this one. Here are the three biggest takeaways from Milwaukee’s late Game 5 victory in Boston.
There have been some incredible, monumental blocks in NBA history. From LeBron James’ block on Andre Iguodala in the 2016 NBA Finals to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s block on Deandre Ayton in the 2021 NBA Finals, so many of these plays have ended up awarding a team a championship.
The block Jrue Holiday had on Marcus Smart in Game 5 with 8.1 seconds left was not only an incredible defensive play, but it could very well be a play we look back on and say, “This is where the Bucks won their second consecutive championship.”
Nothing is a given in this league and the Celtics could still very much win this series because of how volatile this series has been, but this was an absolutely amazing play and Holiday followed it up with yet another spectacular defensive play one possession later.
After he saved the ball off of Smart and Pat Connuahgton hit two free-throws to put the Bucks up three, Jrue Holiday stepped in and stole the ball right out of Marcus Smart’s hands to end the game, not allowing Boston to have a chance at forcing overtime.
A three-time All-Defensive guard, Holiday reminded everyone on Wednesday that while Marcus Smart may have been this season’s Defensive Player of the Year, Holiday is still one of the premier defenders in the world.
Holiday’s effort and ability to read his opponents on the defensive-side of the ball truly is remarkable and the two plays he made late in Game 5 were championship-esce plays.
The Bucks are really missing Khris Middleton right now, but Jrue Holiday is a big reason why they won the title last season and he is a big reason why the Bucks have a chance to repeat as champions this season.
Milwaukee won Game 5 on the road in Boston in dramatic fashion, but there was a key negative aspect from this game that stood out on their end of things and it is the fact that Giannis Antetokounmpo is continuing to shoot three-pointers.
In the regular season and offseason, this is fine because if Antetokounmpo develops a consistent jumper, then that means “game over” for the rest of the league, but he has really struggled from deep in the postseason.
This year, he is only shooting 17.6% from three-point range in the playoffs and in this series against the Celtics, Giannis is shooting just 4-21 (19%) from deep, including going 2-5 from deep in Game 5.
The Boston Celtics are an exceptional defensive team and with Robert Williams III out due to knee soreness, they are small on the interior. Giannis Antetokounmpo has found a ton of success in this series attacking the paint and getting to the rim, as he is averaging 33.6 points per game now in this series after scoring 40 points on Wednesday.
His three-point shot is not falling and as a result, him taking more and more of them is playing directly into the hands of the Celtics.
They want him to shoot threes because the Celtic know there is a slim chance he will make them and for some reason, Antetokounmpo continues to take long-range jumpers!
Boston really has no way of stopping Giannis if he constantly attacks the paint, which is why forcing jump-shots out of him is highly advantageous to the Celtics.
Milwaukee finished +13 in rebounding in Game 5 and Bobby Portis recorded 15 total rebounds, 7 of which were on the offensive-end of the floor.
The energy Portis brings to the Bucks is unmatched by anyone else on their roster and his rebounding effort on Wednesday is a key reason why they were able to come away with a late victory.
Every single board he brought in mattered and none mattered more than his offensive rebound off of Giannis Antetokounmpo’s missed free-throw late in the game.
Not having Robert Williams III obviously impacts the Celtics’ ability to rebound, but they need to focus on keeping Bobby Portis off of the glass in Game 6 because he is the key to the Bucks winning this series.
Giannis can only do so much and with Brook Lopez not always being a factor, the Celtics should be able to hold their own on the glass with or without Williams.
If Bobby Portis has another big rebounding effort in Game 6, the Bucks will win this series in six games. However, if the Celtics can neutralize him and keep Portis under 8 rebounds, then Boston will force a Game 7, assuming their shots are falling.
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.