BOSTAN (AP) – Bobby Portis deflected Janice Antetokunmp’s free throw 15 seconds before the end, Jru Holliday crushed Marcus Smart in Boston’s last two possessions, and the Milwaukee Bucks won the Celtics 110-107 on Wednesday 3-107 -2 host of the series.
Atetokunmpa scored 40 points and 11 rebounds, Holliday scored 24 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, and Portis added 14 points and 15 rebounds for reigning NBA champion Bucks.
Milwaukee has a chance to finish the Eastern Conference semifinals in the 6th game at home on Friday night. The Celtics need a win to hold the decisive seventh game in Boston on Sunday.
In the fourth quarter, the Celtics led by 14 before the Bucks narrowed the gap to 105 with a three-pointer by Holliday 43 seconds before the end. Jason Tatum, who scored just 34 points, made a couple of free throws and put Boston ahead.
Atetokunmpa came out on the line with a chance to equalize and made the first, then Portis captured the rebound of the second and put it behind the shield to bring Milwaukee the first lead since the beginning of the second quarter.
Smart drove into the basket, but Holliday blocked it and walked away with the ball, throwing it away from Smart and falling out of bounds. Pat Conaton made a couple of free throws six seconds before the end, then Holliday stole the ball from Smart in his desperate jerk for a potential 3-point player who could have balance in the game.
Bucks won two of three games in Boston to gain an advantage at home.
Antetokunmpa had the best shot in the series, 16 on 27, but he also made seven turns.
Jaylen Brown scored 26 points for Boston, 16 of them in the third – and 12 of them in the last four minutes of the quarter, when “Boston” turned the advantage with a score of 71:68 to 12 points.
The Bucks scored nine of the first 11 points of the game, but Boston narrowed the gap in the middle of the quarter. The Celtics scored 11 points in a row early in the second meeting, completing the theft of Marcus Smart by throwing Brown forward to spot Tatum lifting the crowd.
But Bucks scored 17 of the next 24 points and made the score 58-55 nine minutes before third.
The Celtics did not have the big man Robert Williams III for the second game in a row – and for the fourth time this postseason – because of pain in his left knee. He was added to the questionable list before being ruled out before the game.
Milwaukee was left without Chris Middleton, who did some work on the field, trying to come back after a sprained left knee. He has not played since April 20 in the 2nd game of the first round series against the Bulls.
“He’s a little mature on the court and we feel good about where he is and are optimistic,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “But this is the same update that has been the last few days”
Milwaukee guard George Hill (stomach ache) really played.
Takko Foul, a former Celtic 7 feet and 6 feet tall, took the game from the front row, under the basket. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft also attended the game. … The Celtics had only two turns in the first half, nine for Bucks. … Celtics substitutes Daniel Theis and Derrick White made their first nine shots.
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