BOSTON — Serve held.
After the Milwaukee Bucks took Games 3 and 4 on their home court to even the first-round NBA playoff series with the Boston Celtics at two, the C’s had to respond Tuesday at TD Garden to maintain home-court advantage.
And they did just that, jumping out to a 16-point lead before holding off a furious fourth-quarter rally to win 92-87 and send the Bucks to the brink of elimination.
Al Horford (22 points), Terry Rozier (16 points), Jaylen Brown (14 points) and Marcus Morris (10 points) all scored in double figures for Boston, while Khris Middleton (23 points) and Jabari Parker (17 points) led the way for the Bucks.
The Celtics now lead the series 3-2.
Here’s how it all went down:
PG: Terry Rozier
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Semi Ojeleye
C: Al Horford
SHAKE IT OFF
Boston struggled to open the game, missing its first five shots from the field to trail 6-1 after three minutes. The C’s shook off the rust, though, as Ojeleye knocked down a 3-pointer and Tatum got three the old-fashioned way to help the C’s go on a 10-5 run to tie the game at 11 halfway through the period.
The Bucks couldn’t take advantage of Boston’s cold start, as Milwaukee only connected on 29 percent of its field goals in the first period, allowing the C’s to take a 23-15 advantage after one quarter.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with six points in the frame, while Horford and Rozier each scored five.
ALL C’S IN THE SECOND
The two teams traded baskets for the opening minutes of the second quarter, but then Boston went on its run.
First, Tatum found Shane Larkin for an easy deuce, stretching the lead to six. Morris and Aron Baynes quickly followed with hoops of their own to grow the C’s edge to 10. An Eric Bledsoe 19-footer cut it back to eight, but then Brown and Tatum drilled back-to-back trey to give Boston a 14-point lead with 4:22 to play in the half.
Boston extended its lead to 16 with two minutes to play, but the Bucks closed the quarter on a 7-2 run to cut the halftime deficit to 48-37. Antetokounmpo and Middleton led all scorers with 11 points apiece, while Horford and Morris paced the C’s with eight each.
FISTICUFFS AND FIREWORKS
The third quarter started with some sloppy play by both sides and then some extracurricular activities between Rozier and Bledsoe. Rozier bumped Bledsoe off the ball and the Bucks guard retaliated by hip-checking Rozier and starting a minor scuffle that saw Bledsoe get hit with a flagrant foul and Rozier gifted a dead-ball technical.
Milwaukee finally picked up its play midway through the third quarter, as Shabazz Muhammad came off the bench to score 11 quick points and cut the C’s lead to 61-57 with 3:23 to play in the frame.
Boston responded with a quick 11-4 run, capped by a Horford dunk to take a 72-61 lead into the fourth quarter.
WHO WANTS IT MORE?
The Bucks came out of the gates hot in the fourth quarter, quickly cutting Boston’s lead to 72-68 thanks to five points from Parker.
Boston’s lead remained slim throughout the final stanza, but the Bucks weren’t able to draw even with the C’s. Boston held a five-point lead with under a minute to play, but Middleton missed a 3-pointer from the wing and Marcus Smart found Horford for a dunk to push it to seven.
The Bucks cut it to three with 16 second left but Boston sealed it at the free-throw line.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE GAME
“You know my name.”
The series will head back to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Thursday. Tip-off from the BMO Bradley Center is to be determined.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images