The Boston Celtics made an extraordinary comeback attempt Thursday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, as they cut a 27-point deficit all the way down to four inside Fiserv Forum. However, the league-leading Bucks managed to hold their ground during the game’s closing moments, before coming out on top with a 128-123 win.
The first major portion of Boston’s comeback took place during the third quarter, as it went on a 23-10 run that cut a 19-point deficit down to six. Milwaukee would go back up by as many as 22 during that same frame, but the C’s went on to dominate the fourth quarter, which set up a dramatic finish.
Boston outscored the Bucks 36-22 during the final frame, which included a 12-2 run during the last three minutes of action. The C’s were trailing 125-111 when that stretch started on a step-back triple from Marcus Smart. Jayson Tatum led the charge on the late-game run, during which he scored five points, including two on a driving dunk that cut the deficit down to four with 38 seconds remaining.
The Bucks dribbled out as much time as they could on their next possession, before Smart met Giannis Antetokounmpo at the rim to block the Greek Freak's layup attempt.
The C’s quickly dribbled upcourt looking to make it a one-possession game, but Smart front-rimmed a 3-point attempt from the right wing with nine seconds left, which all but put an end to his team’s rally.
Wesley Matthews came down with the rebound off the miss and handed the ball off to Kris Middleton, who was then fouled by Gordon Hayward with 5.1 seconds remaining. Middleton would sink 1-of-2 from the free-throw line to secure the five-point victory.
Boston's incredible comeback attempt never would've been possible if it weren't for the exceptional performance put on by Kemba Walker.
After being held scoreless during the first quarter, Walker erupted for 24 points during the second frame, which helped to pave the way for his second 40-point effort of the season.
The All-Star worthy point guard finished with exactly 40 in the scoring column, while shooting 14-of-23 from the field, 4-of-11 from 3-point range and 8-of-9 from the free-throw line. He also dished out three assists, which contributed to seven more points for the C's.
Not only did Walker lead the offensive effort for Boston, but he also paced the team in rebounds. He pulled down a season-high 11 boards, which put him just one shy of his career-best mark. It was the first double-digit rebound game for Walker since March 23, 2019, when the then-Charlotte Hornet tallied 36 points and 11 boards against his future Celtics team.
Box Score Nuggets
- Kemba Walker led all scorers with 40 points on 14-of-23 shooting from the field.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks in points (32), rebounds (17) and assists (seven).
- Both teams made 43 field goals, though Boston had 11 more attempts than Milwaukee.
- Brook Lopez blocked four shots, while no one else swatted more than two.
- Boston turned the ball over just seven times. No Celtic logged more than two turnovers.
- Kyle Korver was a game-high plus-18 in 18 minutes of action.
- Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart and Walker combined to shoot 19-of-20 from the free-throw line.
- Milwaukee's second unit outscored Boston's bench, 48-23.
- The Celtics had a 46-40 scoring advantage inside the paint.
- The C's attempted 49 3-pointers, marking their second-highest total of the season. They attempted 55 against Milwaukee in their first matchup.
Quote of the Night
He was awfully special tonight.
Brad Stevens on Kemba Walker.