Keys to the Game: Bucks 103, Celtics 101

Marc D'Amico
Team Reporter and Analyst

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Key Moment

You won’t see many endings more chaotic than the final seconds of Game 3 between the Celtics and the Bucks.

Boston trailed by 13 points heading into the fourth quarter but stormed back to take a 100-99 lead with 1:49 left in the game. Milwaukee answered with four straight points from Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday to pull back ahead 103-100 with 11.2 seconds left.

Boston used a timeout to draw up a play, and out of that timeout, Marcus Smart was fouled as he took control of a dribble hand-off and as he turned into a shot from long range. He was fouled in motion by Holiday, which could have set up a potential game-tying trip to the free-throw line. However, the referees determined that the foul did not occur in the act of shooting and that it was instead in the act of a rip-through move by Smart. As a result, Smart was afforded only two free throws instead of three with 4.6 seconds left on the clock.

Smart made the first, which set the table for the ensuing chaos. The Celtics quietly relayed to Smart that they wanted him to miss the second free-throw in an attempt to grab an offensive rebound and tie the game. So that’s exactly what Smart did.

The Defensive Player of the Year took control of the ball and shot a line-drive free throw off the backboard that then grazed the rim and created an offensive rebound opportunity for Boston. Just after the ball touched the backboard, Smart darted in toward the basket and somehow took control of the ball as it bounced back directly toward him. He came down with possession in the left side of the restricted area, and, after touching down to the ground, he tossed up a shot over the extended right arm of Antetokounmpo.

Smart’s shot nearly dropped through to tie the game, but it popped out and off the left side of the rim. Robert Williams then tried a tip-in that missed off the backboard, which provided Al Horford with a tip-in opportunity on the other side of the paint.

Horford’s tip bounced high off the backboard, and then off the inside of the front of the rim. It also nearly dropped through the rim, but it leaked out and back toward him as the final half-second of the game clock ticked down.

Horford once again extended his right hand up one for a third potential tip-in by Boston and this time, he tipped it off the backboard and through the net. Boston’s bench began to celebrate the fact that the team had just forced overtime, but it was soon ruled that time had run out just before the ball left Horford’s hands.

With that ruling, Milwaukee had officially outlasted the Celtics for a 103-101 win to take a 2-1 series lead.

Key Player

Boston was in dire need of one of its role players stepping up with a massive performance Saturday afternoon, and Al Horford – per usual – answered the call.

That’s what Playoff Al does.

The 15-year veteran put together one of the top playoff performances of his career by tallying 22 points, a game-high 16 rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots during 39 minutes of action. He also nearly tipped in a shot at the buzzer to force overtime for Boston.

Saturday marked one of the top shooting performances of Horford’s season as well. Not only did he shoot 4-for-7 from long range, but he also shot 5-for-9 from inside the arc. Horford also did not commit a turnover while he as on the floor.

Box Score Nuggets

  • Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday each attempted 30 shots, while no player on Boston's roster shot more than 19 times.
  • Antetokounmpo led the game with 42 points and also added in 12 rebounds, a game-high eight assists, two steals and two blocks.
  • Jaylen Brown led Boston with 27 points on 8-for-16 shooting.
  • Brown shot 10-for-11 from the free-throw line.
  • Brown also grabbed 12 rebounds to tally a double-double.
  • Al Horford was outstanding with 22 points, a game-high 16 rebounds, a team-best five assists, and two blocked shots.
  • Derrick White led all reserves with 14 points on only six shot attempts.
  • Milwaukee outscored Boston 52-32 in the paint.
  • The teams combined to commit only 22 turnovers (12 by Boston, 10 by Milwaukee).
  • Boston blocked a whopping 13 shots, with Jayson Tatum (four), Robert Williams (three), Grant Williams (three) and Al Horford (two) each blocking multiple shots.
  • Brook Lopez tallied a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
  • Holiday totaled 25 points for the Bucks.

Quote of the Night

Marcus Smart on not being given three free throws after the final foul of the game