Keys to the Game: Bucks 119, Celtics 112

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

This game hung in the balance during the final two minutes. And with 1:28 left on the clock and the game tied at 107-107, the most important play of the game went in Boston’s favor.

And then, it didn’t.

Marcus Smart stepped in to draw an offensive foul on Giannis Antetokounmpo as the reigning MVP dropped in a layup in the paint. The charge both gave Boston possession of the ball amid a tie game and fouled Antetokounmpo out of the game. Crunch-time moments don’t get much bigger than that.

But then call was then reviewed, and eventually overturned.

That reversal not only led to the Bucks being awarded two points plus a free throw attempt, but it also allowed Antetokounmpo, a dominant force at both ends, to remain in the game.

Antetokounmpo made his free throw to put Milwaukee on top 110-107 with 1:28 left in the game. After Boston misfired on a quick 3-pointer at the other end, the Bucks canned another one off the hands of Khris Middleton.

Just like that, in a span of only 25 seconds of game action, the Celtics went from thinking they had possession of the ball in a tie game, to being down by six with 63 seconds remaining in regulation. That gap between those two scenarios was too much to overcome.

Key Player

Marcus Smart was the reason the Celtics got back into Friday’s game against Milwaukee after they fell behind 17-2. He was also the reason the Celtics remained in the game until the final minute.

Smart came off of Boston’s bench to pour in a team-high 23 points on an efficient 7-for-11 shooting performance. He shot 3-for-6 from downtown and also connected on six of his eight free throws.

No other stats in his box score pop off the page – he totaled four rebounds, one assist and one steal – but the energy he provided to the team throughout his 32-plus minutes of action was impossible to ignore. He ignited the Celtics with his effort and his fearless defense.

He’s the reason why Boston can head into its second seeding game feeling good about where it is at. Because without his effort and shooting, this game would have likely turned into a lopsided loss.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Six Celtics scored between 13 and 23 points, led by 23 from Marcus Smart.
  • Giannis Antetokounmpo led the game with 36 points and 15 rebounds. He also dished out seven assists.
  • Daniel Theis was outstanding for Boston, totaling 13 points, 12 rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
  • Both teams committed only 15 turnovers.
  • Jaylen Brown and Antetokounmpo tied for the game high in made free throws with seven apiece.
  • Brad Wanamaker came off of Boston's bench to score 14 points and grab six rebounds.
  • Both teams struggled from long range, as Boston shot 11-for-37 (29.7 percent) and Milwaukee shot 13-for-41 (31.7 percent).
  • Antetokounmpo was the only Bucks player to grab more than six rebounds, while Boston had three players (Theis, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum) do so.
  • Boston grabbed twice as many offensive rebounds (14) as Milwaukee (seven).

Quote of the Night

Kemba Walker on how his knee felt