For 34 minutes, 14 seconds, the Milwaukee Bucks could not erase the cushion the Boston Celtics had built in the second quarter – until Bobby Portis put back Giannis Antetokounmpo’s missed free throw with 11.4 seconds remaining to give his team a 108-107 lead in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
The Celtics did not score again, and the Bucks capitalized on Boston’s epic collapse to steal a 110-107 victory and a 3-2 lead in the series. Milwaukee can now close out Game 6 at home on Friday night.
Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 40 points and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes.
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined for 60 points for the Celtics.
Tatum could not find his rhythm from distance, shorting his attempts, but Brown found him for an alley-oop that capped an 11-0 run and gave Boston a 51-38 lead with 3:47 remaining in the second quarter. The cushion was enough to withstand a late rally from Antetokounmpo and hold a seven-point lead at the half.
Milwaukee’s push continued to start the third quarter, and a Brook Lopez jump shot cut the deficit to 60-59 inside of five minutes. The bucket came after three offensive rebounds, so Celtics coach Ime Udoka called a timeout to rip his team’s fortitude on the glass. Boston was settling for 3-pointers early in the shot clock, complaining about calls when they tried to attack the basket and letting both impact the defensive effort.
So, Marcus Smart gave the Celtics a spark, as he so often does, pushing the lead back to two possessions on an open 3-pointer, and Brown took over the remainder of the third quarter. The one-time All-Star scored 12 in less than three minutes to finish with 16 in the quarter and push Boston’s lead back to double digits.
The Bucks would not stop coming, even as the Celtics extended the lead to 14 early in the fourth quarter. Pat Connaughton’s 3-pointer with 7:34 left cut Boston’s lead to 98-90, forcing another Udoka timeout and tirade. Still, Jrue Holiday’s jumper slashed the deficit to 101-99 as the four-minute mark approached.
Tatum responded with a jumper of his own. Smart drew a charge from Antetokounmpo. Horford dunked an errant Brown shot, and the Celtics were back up 105-99 with a little more than two minutes remaining.
Still, Milwaukee would not relent. Back-to-back 3-pointers from Antetokounmpo and Holiday tied the game with 43.2 seconds left – the first time Boston did not hold the lead since the start of the second quarter.
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