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The Boston Celtics, after an ugly first 30 minutes, erased a 20-point deficit only to fall in the final seconds to the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Jaylen Brown had a career night, finishing with 34 points and eight rebounds, but it was Giannis Antetokounmpo's tip-in layup with five seconds remaining that ultimately lifted the Bucks and tied the series.


The Celtics had a solid start to this contest, with a rejuvenated defense and renewed aggressiveness. They locked down Milwaukee's two stars, Antetokounmpo and Kris Middleton, who failed to make any of their first seven field-goal attempts. This was a refreshing thing to see after those two have continuously had their way through the first three games of the series.

The C's were also doing a great job attacking the glass. They hauled in five offensive rebounds in the early minutes, while the Buck's only managed to grab two defensive boards.

However, there was a major shift in the second half of the 1Q. Suddenly, the C's couldn't convert on anything at the other end of the floor. Brown and Terry Rozier were a combined 1-10, missing open layups and three-point looks. They finished the quarter with a poor 28% shooting and somehow only managed to hit two of 11 shots at the rim.

A 13-3 Bucks run to end the quarter, including this sloppy turnover on an in-bounce pass with one second left that led to a Matthew Dellavedola layup, found the Celtics down seven:





The Bucks carried this momentum into the second frame. For the second game in a row, Jabari Parker played great basketball and Thon Maker had a large impact off the bench. Parker was doing it all for Milwaukee, posting 12 points, five boards, two steals and three blocks in the first half.

Halfway through the second quarter, Boston had scored a mere six points. Marcus Morris and the rest of the bench couldn't get anything going, struggling to take care of the ball or get open looks. Finally, Brown got into a groove mid-quarter, carrying Boston's offense and pouring in 12 of their 18 second-quarter points off aggressive moves like this:



That being said, Jaylen tried playing a bit too much hero-ball, which, while often leading to tough makes, also led to turnovers and forced shots. Rozier, who averaged north of 18 points in the first three games, finished the half with two points on 1-8 shooting.The Bucks outscored Boston by nine in quarter two, ending in a 16-point difference at half:



The Celtics offense began to show signs of life out of the intermission with all five starters getting on the board. The defense, however, was nowhere near where it needed to be. The Bucks shared the ball well to slice up the C's defense and get easy shots on net, pushing their lead to 20.

Once Boston was able to get a string of stops, things started looking up. They scored on nine straight possessions, going on multiple scoring spurts in the process to climb right back into the game. Brown continued to attack and punush the Bucks from all over the court, racking up another 13 points in the 3Q. They consistenly turned defense into offense, like this play where Al Horford took it by himself for the slam:



The Celtics trailed by as many as 20 in the quarter but used a 22-10 run to enter the 4th down just eight points:



By the start of the final frame, it was now clear who had the momentum - the Celts scored the first five points and looked their best all game. A pair of Morris shots tied the game with nine minutes remaining to officially complete the 20-point comeback.

Boston and Milwaukee exchanged baskets for quite some time before Giannis and the Bucks opened another small lead. A Greek Freak posterizer on Horford made it a seven-point deficit for Boston, but Horford quickly answered with an and-one finish at the rim.

Playoff Terry came alive in the fourth, knocking down a pair of much-needed treys to keep Boston within a few points, but it was Brown who continued to shine. The 21-year-old added to a career-night by splashing home a step-back three over Thon Maker to make it a one-point game:



Then it was the rook's turn to step up. Jayson Tatum, who had a strong showing with 21 points, took a tough mid-range jump shot off the dribble that netted in to give Boston a late lead.

With a tie game and 25 ticks remaining, the Bucks possession ended in a missed shot, but Giannis tipped in the rebound to put Milwaukee up two with five seconds left. Boston's final look was a Morris fade-away shot on the baseline that rimmed out, giving the Bucks the 104-102 victory to tie the series at two a piece.

The series will head back to Boston on Tuesday with the Celtics looking to rebound from back-to-back losses and go up 3-2.


Follow Erik Johnson on Twitter: @erikjohnson32

Photo via @Celtics

Erik Johnson 4/22/2018 03:41:00 PM Edit
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