The NBA postseason is full of close series, and the Boston Celtics are looking to tie the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday.
Saturday’s Game 3 went the Milwaukee Bucks’ way, as Giannis Antetokounmpo scored his most points since his 50-piece in the Finals clincher last year:
🏀 FINAL SCORE THREAD 🏀
Giannis erupts for 42 points as the @Bucks hold on in a thrilling Game 3! They'll seek a 3-1 series lead Monday at 7:30pm/et on TNT.
Jrue Holiday: 25 PTS, 3 STL
Brook Lopez: 13 PTS, 10 REB pic.twitter.com/NuxF2J18oj
— NBA (@NBA) May 7, 2022
Jayson Tatum and the Celtics struggled in the contest.
They had offensive lapses, but what was more surprising was that there were defensive lapses by Boston.
The Celtics allowed 34 points to the Bucks in the third quarter.
Milwaukee held a 14-point lead, and Boston made an impressive run in the fourth quarter, but it was not enough.
The Celtics were not able to hold onto the lead and finish off the game.
Boston dominated the free throw line, as they attempted twice as many in the contest:
- Celtics attempted 34 free throws
- Bucks attempted 17 free throws
In addition, Boston had the final 17 free throw attempts of the game.
There was a lot of discussion regarding the final two free throw attempts by Marcus Smart though.
According to the “Last Two Minute Report,” the call was correct:
Last 2 minute report is out for Celtics-Bucks Game 3. There are five incorrect calls listed in the final two minutes but league says Marcus Smart non-shooting foul was correct call.
— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) May 8, 2022
In the Game 3 win, Antetokounmpo dominated the game (42 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists), as Jrue Holiday added 25 points.
It was a very important win for the Bucks in front of the Fiserv Forum faithful.
Now, will Milwaukee be able to make it back-to-back wins?
Las Vegas says yes, as the betting line is -1.5 in favor of the Bucks.
Milwaukee also has the slight edge in the series – the Bucks are -154 according to Action Network; the Celtics are +130.
However, can the Celtics come back in this series?
The answer is that they absolutely can.
The Celtics Can Come Back In The Conference Semifinals
The Celtics are down 2-1 in the series after the vital Game 3 did not go their way, but they are not out.
Boston received just 10 points from Tatum, as he shot 4-for-19 from the field and misfired on all six of his 3-point attempts.
Prior to Game 3, he had never scored 10 or fewer points in a playoff game in which he played at least 30 minutes.
Just one Tatum 3-pointer would have gotten the Celtics the victory on Saturday.
The three-time All-Star plays his 58th career playoff game on Monday, and it will be one of the most important games of his five-year career.
Meanwhile, his running mate Jaylen Brown — in his sixth NBA season — scored a team-high 27 points in Game 3.
He almost matched the Greek Freak’s free throw attempt total on Saturday:
- Jaylen Brown: 11 free throw attempts (10 made)
- Giannis Antetokounmpo: 12 free throw attempts (nine made)
Brown has at least 22 points in six of the Celtics’ seven postseason games this season, and he has a combined 57 points in the last two contests.
He has played through his hamstring tightness, while Tatum is attempting to overcome a wrist ailment:
Jayson Tatum on his wrist: "It's something I've been dealing with for two months now… it's healed but it's kind of sensitive still." pic.twitter.com/VCWlUNrTO3
— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 7, 2022
Tatum should be healthy enough to play well in Game 4 and tie up the series.
However, it is easier said than done.
If the Celtics want to win this series, it will come down to Tatum and Brown performing well.