Another day, another Boston Celtics game going down to the wire and resulting in defeat.
This time, they can somewhat hang their hat on a late-game comeback in their 121-119 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. And it came down to a missed game-winner from Daniel Theis with one second on the clock.
The Celtics did a good job containing Giannis Antetokounmpo (13 points), but the defense started and ended there, save for a solid stretch that helped them close out the third quarter with some momentum that carried through to the fourth.
But the Boston run that ensued wasn’t enough to completely erase the deficit. Kemba Walker led the resurgence, finishing with 23 points and six assists, a majority coming in the final 18 minutes.
Jaylen Brown scored a team-high 24 points and 10 rebounds. Tatum had 18 points, eight rebounds and five assists. And Jeff Teague had 15 points in another great effort off the bench.
But with that failed comeback, the Celtics fall to 21-23 on the season. Here’s how it all went down:
PF: Jayson Tatum
SF: Jaylen Brown
PG: Kemba Walker
SG: Marcus Smart
C: Daniel Theis
The Celtics were carried by Brown in the first quarter to hang tight against a balanced Bucks offense out of the gate. He came out hot, hitting 6-of-8 from the field with two 3-pointers and leading the game with 14 points by the end of the frame.
Theis supported that effort with eight points and played well off Smart (four assists) and Walker (two assists), who accounted for most of Boston’s seven assists in the first.
Brook Lopez led the Bucks with nine points making slight work of the post. And thanks to 15 points from the bench, Milwaukee managed a 35-30 lead over Boston.
DEFENSE DIGS A HOLE
Theis and Brown cooled down in the second quarter as Milwaukee opened up a 10-point lead.
Tatum got more involved in the scoring after a freezing start but shot 4-for-10 from the field missing all four 3-point attempts in the first half. Walker wasn’t hitting all his shots early either but had two triples by the break.
The defense wasn’t great, allowing every player who entered the game for the Bucks to get points. Antetokounmpo somehow was held to just four points, though he picked up just as many assists and defensive boards.
Teague still was hot from his big night against the Memphis Grizzlies and led the bench with eight points.
Milwaukee led Boston 70-59 at the break.
YIKES (BUT THERE’S LIFE)
Any positives that could be taken from this game didn’t come in the third frame, because the Celtics didn’t look engaged at all, to say the least.
Milwaukee had five players score double figures and, oddly, Antetokoumnpo wasn’t one of them. His presence still was known, though.
The last stretch did see a mini-run from Boston, though. It appeared to stem from a passionate rant from Smart and Walker finally getting hot.
Boston began to play defense, believe it or not, and cut its 25-point deficit down to 12 with just over two minutes left in the quarter.
Walker had 14 points in the third quarter alone, the bulk of it coming in the final six minutes.
Milwaukee led 100-86 entering the fourth.
DOWN TO THE WIRE
The Celtics’ momentum carried into the final quarter, but it took some time for Boston to crawl within less than 10 points of Milwaukee.
But a big 3-point shot from Brown made that happen with six minutes to play.
Then things started to click. Walker kept crushing shots. Theis took a crucial offensive board down the stretch and Brown finished the game how he started it.
Tatum assisted him on a triple that made it a 121-119 game, with Boston sniffing the lead for the first time since the opening quarter.
But Walker was stuffed on a layup, and some clutch defensive stops didn’t leave them enough time to convert anything on two last-minute inbounds.
PLAY OF THE GAME
It wasn’t crazy, but it did help put the C’s within striking distance.
Another game against the Bucks on Friday tips off at 7:30 p.m. ET in Milwaukee and begins a back-to-back that ends in Oklahoma City with the Thunder.