Stop us if you’ve heard this before, but the Boston Celtics’ ugly second quarter played a key role in their loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.
It has been the case on multiple occasions already in their first-round NBA playoff series, and it was again as the C’s fell to the Bucks 97-86 in Game 6 at BMO Harris Bradley Center on Thursday night. Now, Boston will try to close the door at home on Saturday night in a decisive Game 7.
The C’s were competitive for most of Thursday’s game — except for their dreadful second quarter.
In those 12 minutes, Boston’s shot selection was downright dreadful, resulting in them hitting six of their 20 attempts from the field. They turned the ball over four times, which played a big role in the Bucks’ 10 points off the fastbreak. They also were out-rebounded 15-8, with Milwuakee adding four second-chance points off its three offensive boards.
The second frame has been a noticeable issue for the Celtics in this series, particularly in losses, while in some other cases the first quarter has been the problem. But with their mere 15 points in Game 6’s second, the Celtics now own the worst points per second quarter, 20.5, of any of the 16 playoff teams.
And in Thursday’s loss, the C’s took an extra gut-punch at the end of the frame by allowing Milwaukee to outscore them 14-2 over the final 4:34.
Put simply, the Celtics are putting themselves at a big disadvantage for the second half by not only digging a hole in terms of points, but also allowing the momentum to swing in Milwaukee’s favor.
The Celtics as a whole have been the better team this series, and they do deserve to move on to play the Philadelphia 76ers. But the way they’ve taken the second quarter off in multiple games now is putting them in a position where their backs are against the wall.
Here are some other notes from Celtics-Bucks Game 6:
— Jayson Tatum stepped up for the Celtics, especially in the second half.
The rookie scored 16 of his 22 points in the final two quarters and was a big reason the Celtics even were able to keep the game close towards the end. He displayed good composure in a tense environment, took smart shots while knowing when to dish the ball, but also when to take the initiative to shoot and drive the lane when needed.
— Semi Ojeleye did a tremendous job in Game 5 of neutralizingÂ Giannis Antetokounmpo, and that again earned him a spot in the starting five, but the result wasn’t quite the same in Game 6.
Antetokounmpo went off for a game-high 31 points, carrying the Bucks in a big way in their victory. It’s hard to put Antetokounmpo’s stellar performance solely on Ojeleye, as he is one of the game’s bright young stars, and tasking a rookie like Ojeleye with limited experience logging big minutes in an important role like that is a big undertaking.
In the day between Game 6 and 7, the Celtics may need to consider other avenues to compliment Ojeleye’s defensive focus on the Greek Freak.
— Game 7 will take place Saturday night at TD Garden, with tip scheduled for 8 p.m. ET.