Raptors 120, Bucks 102: Last word

TORONTO | The Toronto Raptors evened the series at 2-2 with a 120-102 blowout win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 4 Tuesday night.

Player of the game: Kyle Lowry

There is no denying how huge the Raptors’ bench was in the game, but Lowry is the one that got Toronto going. He finished with 25 points, six assists and five rebounds.

Play of the game: Kawhi Leonard dunks on Giannis

Kawhi Leonard has arguably been the best player in the playoffs this year. He is one of the best two-way players in the NBA and is proving that in this series. Leonard was able to get a dunk on Giannis as well.

The good: Khris Middleton

If it wasn’t for Middleton, the Bucks may have lost by 50. He did his best to keep Milwaukee in the game, especially in the second quarter. Middleton finished with a game-high 30 points, seven assists and six rebounds. He was active on defense and did a good job guarding Kawhi Leonard.

Middleton was lights out from the field as well. He was 11-15 overall and 4-7 from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, nobody else matched his play.

The not so good: Where do I start?

Giannis Antetokounmpo put on a nice show for Bucks fans early on. He helped the Bucks open up a 12-5 lead, but it was all downhill from there. Giannis looked similar to what we saw in Game 3 for the final three quarters. Eric Bledsoe continued to struggle as well. Head coach Mike Budenholzer went to George Hill in favor of Bledsoe at the nine minute mark of the first frame. Bledsoe played only 20 minutes on the night.

“I don’t worry about Bledsoe because I know he’s going to do his job, he’s going to come out aggressive, he’s going to find his rhythm, but at the end of the day the message to him is to stay aggressive, keep trying to go downhill, keep making the right pass and eventually it’s going to fall,” Giannis said. “He’s been doing a great job just being a leader, talking to everybody and just trying to impact the game as much as he can, in any area he can.”

The defense was the most concerning aspect of the night. It was their worst effort in this series. When the Bucks aren’t shooting well, they count on their defense to keep them in games, but it wasn’t there in Game 4.

“We didn’t really take away one thing from them,” Middleton said. “For the most part, they got anything they wanted, from the paint to the blocks to the midrange to the threes, and I feel like we just didn’t take away one thing tonight defensively. So we’ve just got to be better.”

The weird: Drake

Drake is not a normal fan.

Stat of the game: 48 points from the Raptors bench

Coming into the series, the thought was that the Bucks had the edge in bench play but that wasn’t the case Tuesday night. Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka and Fred VanVleet combined for 48 points off the bench for the Raptors.

Milwaukee’s bench only mustered 23 points. They were outplayed for the entire game. Malcolm Brogdon had trouble finding his shot, leaving many short on a four-point 2-11 night. George Hill finished with five points but only attempted two shots. Ersan Ilyasova scored seven points and Pat Connaughton finished with three points.

The showcase matchup is Giannis vs Kawhi, but it has been the benches that have made the impact on this series.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the loss…

I think this is probably the first night defensively where I don’t feel like we were close to where you need to be to give ourselves a chance. So credit to Toronto. They obviously played well, had a lot of guys step up and play well. Their bench was very good.

Mirotic on Game 5…

Nobody said it was going to be easy…We need to go back to Milwaukee and do what they did to us.

Nurse on the bench production…

I always say this, that I want them to come in and hold their own defensively and execute the defensive schemes, and I just didn’t see many problems there. You know, they were able to guard a bunch of different people. Two of those three guys, Norm and Serge, ended up on Giannis quite a bit. So chipping in there is good. Serge was great on the glass. And I thought both Fred and Norm give us — Fred gives us some play calling, some organization, but they both give us some dribble penetration and then some shooting too. So it’s important that those guys are out there to be able to catch the pass off the double-teams, space, and if they rush out to them, they can get back into the paint and make the next play as well.

What’s next?

The Bucks (2-2) will look to their home-court to help win Game 5 over the Raptors (2-2) on Thursday. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.

Raptors 118, Bucks 112 : Last word

TORONTO | The Milwaukee Bucks dropped Game 3 to the Toronto Raptors in double-overtime on Sunday night.

Player of the game: Kawhi Leonard

Leonard was given the assignment to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo and he did a great job forcing the Greek Freak into difficult situations. Leonard also did plenty on the offensive end. He played a playoff-career-high 52 minutes scoring 36 points, grabbing nine rebounds and dishing out five assists.

“Yeah, I think first of all, his defense was probably the biggest key of the game,” Raptors head coach Nick Nurse said about Leonard. “Not only did he just play good, but he made some huge plays with some steals and rip-aways and breakaways. Offense was hard to come by there for both teams for a while, and any time you can get a steal and a breakout, it’s a huge momentum play. But yea, he was good.”

People talk about Leonard as one of the best two-way players in the NBA, so it was no surprise to witness the monster game he had Sunday night. Leonard has performed at a high level on the grandest stage, so you must expect him to perform in the Eastern Conference Finals. Milwaukee can’t stop Leonard, but Giannis can cancel him out and he didn’t do that in Game 3.

Play of the game: Pascal Siakam denies Brook Lopez

In a crucial point late in the second overtime, Lopez drove to the basket but was met by the weak-side help of Siakam who sent the attempt back. Toronto went on to finish it off to avoid a possible sweep.

Siakam finally had a complete game. He always brings the intensity and energy on the defensive end, but he was one of the guys who got Toronto going early offensively. A most-improved player of the year candidate, Siakam finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

The good: George Hill

Hill was the best player on the floor for the Bucks and it doesn’t feel like this is the first time I’m saying this in this postseason alone. He finished with 24 points, seven rebounds and two assists. Hill always seemed to hit a big shot when Milwaukee really needed it and kept them in the game all the way until the end.

Budenholzer talked about what Eric Bledsoe can learn from Hill’s play. “I think they’re such good friends,” Budenholzer said. “They spend so much time together away from the court. When George plays well, he’s like his biggest fan. I think George is playing with a lot of aggressiveness. Like you said, he’s playing with a lot of force and attacking. And I think when Bled does those things, that’s when he’s at his best. I think just like the entire group, I think Bled will be better in Game 4. I’ve got a lot of confidence.”

The bench followed Hill’s lead all night. Malcolm Brogdon was terrific as well. He had 20 points in 37 minutes of play. Both Hill and Brogdon saw time defending Leonard also.

“I feel great,” Brogdon said. “I feel as though my role has been to come in, bring a spark, be the fresh legs on the team, bring the energy. I feel like I’ve done that for the most part. But we lost the game tonight, so I think all of us have a bigger role to play.”

The not so good: Giannis Antetokounmpo and the starters

This was one of the worst games I’ve seen Giannis play. Give credit to Toronto, they made it difficult on him. Almost every time Giannis touched the ball the Raptors would send a defender over to double team causing him to make bad decisions leading to eight turnovers.

Giannis had just 12 points on 5-16 shooting and fouled out early in the second overtime period.

The rest of the starters weren’t much better. Brook Lopez was the only bright spot leading the way for the starting five with 16 points. However, Bledsoe (11 points, 3-16 FG), Nikola Mirotic (10 points, 3-11 FG) and Khris Middleton (9 points, 3-16 FG) struggled hitting shots.

“We don’t really worry about guys making shots or missing shots,” Hill said of the starters. “It’s just one of those games where they didn’t make them today. We have the utmost respect and belief that the next game is not going to be as bad as it was. But I know it’s sitting in their head that they go for a combined 11 of 48 or something like that. We’re not worried about it. We know they’re going to come to play next game. They’re super competitive. They’re super professional. Just keep moving forward.”

Stat of the game: 66.7% FT shooting

If just one more free throw fell, we may be talking about a Bucks win. They shot 22-33 (66.7%) from the foul line. Giannis was just 2-7 from the free throw line and missed several late in the game.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the loss…

I feel like we gave ourselves several chances. We weren’t able to get over the hump. Give them credit. As a group, they played well. A couple guys really stepped up for them. I think there’s lots of opportunity for us to look at how we can get better collectively, how we can be better going into Game 4. I think we look forward to that.

Nurse on the win…

I think just in general, we played with a much tougher mindset. I thought we were kind of gritty and we didn’t really have much choice there. Those guys had to roll those minutes, and they kept on playing and fighting and doing everything they could to keep us in the game and make plays.

What’s next?

The Bucks (2-1) will look to take a 3-1 series lead over the Raptors (1-2) in Toronto on Tuesday. Tip-off at 7:30pm.

Bucks 125, Raptors 103: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks took a 2-0 series lead over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals with a 125-103 win Friday night.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

After a non-Giannis-esque performance in Game 1, you expected more from the Greek Freak in Game 2. Boy, did he deliver. Giannis finished with a team-high 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. It wasn’t typical domination game from the Greek Freak, but he set the tone for the Bucks from the tip.

“I know every night when the game starts, my teammates are looking at me as a leader of the team,” Giannis said. “When the game starts, we’ve got to set the tone and we’ve got to be focused. You’ve got to make sure the whole team is into the game. And I think it definitely gave the team a lot of energy to start the game.”

“He plays so hard, he lays it all on the line, every time,” Bucks Coach Mike Budenholzer said. “It was a great start for us. I think everybody fed off of Giannis and how he started the game.”

The first basket of the game was a Giannis dunk. Milwaukee started the game on a 9-0 run and would not relinquish the lead the rest of the way.

Play of the game: Giannis throws it down on Siakam

Someone always ends up on a poster when trying to defend Giannis. This time, it was the Raptors’ young forward Pascal Siakam.

The good: The Start

I don’t think you could script a better start to Game 2. The Bucks got off to a 9-0 run leading to a Nick Nurse timeout. They held the lead for the rest of the game.

The not so good: Third quarter

The third frame has mostly been a quarter the Bucks could count on dominating, but Toronto battled and won the third 39-31. They cut the lead down to as low as 13 before Milwaukee went on a 6-0 run to push it back to 19 points. Kawhi Leonard was nearly unstoppable in the quarter scoring 15 points (5-9 FG). Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet came in off the bench scoring five points each. It was the only quarter the Bucks didn’t outscore the Raptors.

Stat of the game: 54 points for the Bench Mob

The bench mob was spectacular in Game 2. Ersan Ilyasova, Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill were all in double-digit scoring. Brogdon hasn’t seemed to miss a beat since returning to the court from his injury. He has fit in nicely with the second unit. Brogdon helped the offense rolling after their hot start scoring eight points in the first quarter. He also played a big role in a crucial stretch in the third quarter. The Raptors clawed their way back cutting the deficit to 13. Then, out of a timeout Brogdon scored a layup, found Hill on a fastbreak for another layup and found Hill again for another layup capping off a 6-0 run to put the Bucks back up 19.

Ilyasova had himself a game, especially in the first half. Wearing a shooting sleeve, the Turkish Hammer was a force on both sides of the ball early on. He drew two charges and dropped 15 points through the first two quarters. Ilyasova finished with 17 points (7-11 FG), three rebounds, two assists, two steals and had the highest +/- on the night (22).

“It was clearly his best game of the year, and in a big moment for Ersan to step up,” Budenholzer said. “He’s such a pro.”

“I mean, everybody is saying about the sleeve,” Ilyasova said. “I was making joke in the locker room: Maybe I should put another sleeve on my left if we don’t win by 30. Well, the thing is that’s the beauty about our team. Everybody wants to look at the bench. We have a deep bench and the whole season we rely on each other. Obviously, in this game we kind of learn a lesson from Game 1 and everybody just from the gates was ready, and especially the bench. I think the starting five set the tone, and we have to just do the same thing.”

What they said:

Eric Bledsoe on Game 3…

We’ve got to treat Game 3 like it’s Game 7. Go out there and compete.

Nurse on the loss…

We didn’t do much well tonight, obviously.

Kyle Lowry on going back home…

We get to go back home and protect our home court, like they did these last two games. We’ve got a chance to go home, protect home court and do what we’re supposed to do.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks have now won six consecutive playoff games, which ties the longest winning streak in postseason franchise history (done two other times).

*Milwaukee has now tied the NBA record for 20-point wins in a single postseason with six (done three other times). Of the Bucks’ 10 wins this postseason, eight have come by double digits.

*The Bucks hauled in 53 rebounds, marking their ninth game of this year’s postseason with 50+ rebounds which are the most 50-rebound games in a single postseason in Bucks franchise history.

*Milwaukee led from start to finish, tallying its second wire-to-wire victory of this year’s playoffs.

*Giannis grabbed a playoff-career-high-tying 17 rebounds and led the Bucks with 30 points (10-20 FG), marking his second career playoff game scoring 30+ points with 15+ rebounds. He is just the second player in franchise history to have multiple 30-point/15-rebound career playoff games, along with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (17).

*Ilyasova finished the night with 17 points (7-11 FG) and three rebounds. This is his second game of this year’s postseason with 15+ points and sixth of his playoff career.

*Mirotic scored 15 points and has now scored in double figures in his last three games.

*The Raptors were led by Leonard with 31 points and eight rebounds, marking his ninth game of the playoffs with 30+ points.

*Norman Powell tallied his third game in double figures this postseason, as he finished the night with 14 points.

*Toronto also had Lowry (15) score in double figures.

What’s next?

The Bucks (2-0) will head North to the play the Raptors (0-2) in Toronto for Game 3 on Sunday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00pm.

Bucks 108, Raptors 100: Last word

MILWAUKEE | The Milwaukee Bucks took Game 1 from the Toronto Raptors with a 108-100 win at Fiserv Forum Wednesday night.

Player of the game: Brook Lopez

What more can you say about Splash Mountain? He was terrific for Milwaukee. Lopez finished with a team-high 29 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks. He was also clutch. In the fourth quarter, Lopez knocked down 5-7 from the field including 3-5 from beyond the arc. He had 13 points in the final frame to help the Bucks pull away late.

“The thing that does stand out is the put-backs and the stuff around the basket, particularly in the first half,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We were kind of struggling for scoring and just anything offensively, and he was able to kind of manufacture a couple things. And obviously in the second half, the threes in the spread that he gives us. And then defensively, we’ll look at the tape, but I thought he was there several times in the fourth quarter, making blocks, making big-time contests, rebounding. Certainly, in a big moment, that was a great Brook Lopez tonight.”

“I knew, at some point, Brook was going to come through,” Eric Bledsoe said. “He’s been playing unbelievable defense throughout the whole playoffs. For him to break out an offensive game like this is huge for us.”

Coming into the Eastern Conference Finals, Lopez had only scored in double-figures three times in this year’s playoffs. He hasn’t made much of an impact offensively, until Wednesday night.

Milwaukee continues to prove they can win in so many different ways. Giannis Antetokounmpo is their star, MVP candidate, and leader, but they have multiple players that can step up in big games.

Play of the game: Lopez puts the Raptors away with a dagger

Down by one with less than three minutes to go, Lopez went on his own 5-0 run to put the Bucks up four. This capped off his 13 point fourth quarter and was the final blow Milwaukee needed to put Toronto away.

The good: Malcolm Brogdon

Brogdon played a solid game off the bench. He gave the Bucks a spark when they needed it. George Hill and Pat Connaughton each failed to score but Brogdon was able to pick up the slack. He finished with 15 points (5-9 FG, 3-6 3PT) in just under 27 minutes and had the highest +/- in the game (18).

Budenholzer will have an interesting decision to make whether he wants to insert Brogdon into the starting lineup sometime soon which would move Nikola Mirotic to the bench.

“He was phenomenal,” Budenholzer raved. “Again, the first half, I don’t think we were very good as a group, and Malcolm was one of those guys that kept us afloat. We already talked about Brook kind of keeping us afloat in the first half. And [Brogdon] really did it. I think what he’s doing defensively is impressive, too. His second game back after not playing for a significant period of time, it’s impressive. And we certainly needed him tonight.”

The not so good: Shaking off the rust

It was an ugly start for the Bucks. They’ve had a few starts like this before, especially after a long layoff. We saw it in Game 1 of Round 2 against the Boston Celtics. The Bucks strongly dislike having multiple days off. If it were up to Giannis, they would play every other day. Luckily for Milwaukee, they will play every other day in this series.

The Bucks saw a lot of good looks but couldn’t convert when they had opportunities. They shot just 39.8% from the field and 25% from three-point range. It wasn’t until the fourth quarter when they found success from beyond the arc. They knocked down five of their 11 makes from deep in the last 12 minutes of play. It was an impressive win despite the poor shooting night.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

I think we always talk about our defense. We start with it. I think the way that the guys competed and got after it defensively in the second half and particularly the fourth quarter just stands out to me. The depth, Malcolm coming off the bench and playing the way he did and all the different guys we got contributing. Then obviously a big game from Brook on both ends of the court. We feel like we can get better. To get this win after pretty significant days without playing, I think hopefully we’ll be better between now and Game 2.

Raptors head coach Nick Nurse on whether the team was fatigued down the stretch coming off a seven-game series…

I don’t think so. I thought you could maybe think that or whatever, but I thought we were right there. I thought we answered a bunch of runs, and we were still there at like 100-98. Man, we had a couple great looks. We had a couple bad offensive possessions before that point, but we still clawed it back and we had a couple great looks there down the stretch. We had a couple good defensive possessions that didn’t end up going our way.

In case you missed it:

*The Bucks have now won five consecutive playoff games, which is tied for the second-longest winning streak in postseason franchise history and is the longest since 1974 (6 games).

*Milwaukee held Toronto to just 37% shooting as a team, marking the eighth time the Bucks have held an opponent to under 40% shooting this postseason.

*Lopez led the Bucks with a playoff-career-high 29 points (12-21 FG) and 11 rebounds, tallying his sixth career playoff double-double. This marks his first 20-point game of this year’s playoffs, and just his fourth 20-point game in his playoff career.

*Giannis scored 24 points and hauled in 14 rebounds. This was his fifth 20-point/10-rebound game of the postseason and the 10th of his playoff career. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Terry Cummings as the only players in franchise history to record 10 or more 20-point/10-rebound games in the playoffs.

*Khris Middleton tallied his third career playoff double-double as he scored 11 points and hauled in 11 boards.

*Kawhi Leonard led the Raptors with 31 points and nine rebounds, marking his eighth game of the playoffs with 30+ points.

*Kyle Lowry finished the night with 30 points, tallying his seventh career playoff game with 30+ points and his first since the 2016 playoffs.

*The Raptors also had Pascal Siakam (15) score in double figures.

What’s next?

The Bucks (1-0) will look to take a commanding 2-0 series lead over the Raptors (0-1) on Friday night at Fiserv Forum. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30pm.

Deer Milwaukee: May 14, 2019

On this week’s episode of Deer Milwaukee, Cody Grant shared his thoughts on the Eastern Conference Finals matchup between the Bucks and the Raptors. He also talked about one of his concerns being the amount of days off Milwaukee has had since round two. Plus, Eric Nehm of The Athletic stopped by to breakdown the series.

1:30 | Concern on time off

5:02 | ECF preview

12:15 | Eric Nehm

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Bucks headed to Eastern Conference finals for first time since 2001

The Milwaukee Bucks are headed to the Eastern Conference Finals for the first time in 18 years.

Coach Mike Budenholzer’s club got there with a dominating 116-91 victory over Boston in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum.

“It’s very exciting for the fans of Milwaukee,” said Budenholzer, who is in his first year leading the team. “I’ve said it from the day I arrived. I feel like I jumped on the ship at the perfect time. The fans have been incredibly supportive of the team, every player and the coaching staff. The energy in our building is phenomenal. Hopefully, it’s just going to keep getting better and better.”

Milwaukee led by 13 points at the half and 18 at the end of the third quarter, as the Celtics never really mounted a big challenge in a game they had to have to keep their season alive. It was the Bucks’ fourth-straight win and it came after Boston won Game 1 by 22 points.

“They outplayed us as a group,” Boston guard Kyrie Irving said. “I give credit to them. They came after Game 1, after getting punched in the mouth, and they responded the way a team that deserves to win should.”

In just 31 minutes of action, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists as the Milwaukee star earned his second playoff series win this postseason after getting knocked out in the first round in each of his first three trips.

“That motivates you to keep moving forward and keep doing better things in the future,” Antetokounmpo said of the previous early round losses.

Forward Khris Middleton had 19 points, while guard Eric Bledsoe had 18. Milwaukee got 10 points and four assists from guard Malcolm Brogdon in his first game back since a foot injury in the middle of March.

“Definitely going to enjoy it for the night,” Middleton said of the series win. “It’s a big moment for our franchise, our city and ourselves. But at the same time, we know our season is still going. We’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

They do and it’s still unclear who that work will be against. The other Eastern Conference semifinal between Toronto and Philadelphia sees the Raptors up 3-2 with a chance to close the 76ers out Thursday night. If that happens, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be next Monday. If that series goes to a Game 7, the Finals won’t start until next Wednesday. Either way, Antetokounmpo said they’ll be ready.

“There’s going to be a lot of people that doubt us. That’s the world of basketball and that’s the world of media,” Antetokounmpo said. “There’s going to be people that are with us and there’s people that will be against us and don’t believe in us. But at the end of the day, we realize that we’ve never been there before but we’re really, really hungry to achieve our goals.”

Bucks 113, Celtics 101: Last word

BOSTON | The Milwaukee Bucks took a 3-1 series lead over the Boston Celtics with a 113-101 win Monday night.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

This might be the best game of Antetokounmpo’s playoff career. He finished with 39 points, 16 rebounds and four assists. Giannis is the leader of this team and when he’s on his game there is nobody that can stop him.

Play of the game: Fans in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is a basketball town. There is no doubt about it. The Bucks’ fans have been terrific all season and are turning it up in the playoffs.

The good: Bench in the third quarter

The most crucial stretch of the game happened in the third quarter when Giannis and Khris Middleton each picked up their fourth foul. Led by George Hill, the bench wouldn’t only keep the Bucks in the game but would stretch the lead.

“If we’re honest if you see Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Khris (Middleton) go to the bench you’re concerned, but certainly have a ton of confidence like we were just talking about that that group can play,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “They can really guard, and I think enough of them are finding ways to play offensively and you felt it kind of change and that maybe they were not only hold it tight but extend it. We actually rode them a little bit longer; we were thinking about bringing Khris or
Giannis back and that group just finished the quarter really well.”

“Its amazing. We’ve got 12 guys on the team and they are all great NBA players,” Giannis added. “It’s amazing to see that the bench can keep playing hard, keep defending hard and set the tone for us. I think I was on the bench, Khris (Middleton) was on the bench, (Eric) Bledsoe was on the bench and they’ve done a great job all season, they’ve been the difference maker in this series. It’s great to have guys that can step up like that from the bench.”

The not so good: The three ball

Milwaukee was just 8-37 (21.6%) from downtown on Monday. It was an uncharacteristic night for them, but they were able to overcome all the missed three-pointers. It did help that Boston was almost just as bad from beyond the arc. They converted on just 9-41 (22%) of their threes.

Stat of the game: 37.8% shooting for the Celtics

The Bucks stifling defense bothered Boston throughout the game, especially in the second half. Their rotation was terrific always putting a hand in the face of the open shooter. Defense has been their staple all season long and it came through in the biggest game of the year so far.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

I think the competitiveness of the group. For four quarters I think we’ve been down in the first quarter every game and second quarter we find a way to ride it a little bit, the third and fourth quarter just defensively I think our activity, our togetherness is just fueling everything we do. I thought a huge stretch of the game with Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Khris (Middleton) both on the bench, as two of our leaders, the way that group was able to play on both ends and I think send us into the fourth quarter with a four or six point lead that was just a huge stretch for us and our group. I’m really pleased with the way they played, and I got to get ready to go back to Milwaukee and prepare and do it again.

Hill on taking two straight on the road…

It means we’re resilient. We knew they were going to be a hard fought battle. We knew they were going to take one of the best punches. We knew that we may get calls, we may not get calls. We said it before the game, just play through every whistle, stay together when they go on their run, and I think from one through the fifteenth guy, we did that.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens on how they approach Game 5

It’s win or go home.  You do the same thing you’ve been doing all along.  You play the next possession to win it and that’s it.  You focus on that.  It takes a lot of mental fortitude.  It takes a lot of mental toughness.  It reveals a lot.  I’m looking forward to that challenge.  We don’t want to be in this position but we are and we’ve got to go to Milwaukee and do everything we can to give ourselves another chance to play here on Friday night.

In case you missed it:

*Milwaukee scored 113 points, marking the third straight game in which Boston surrendered at least 100 points. The Celtics held their opponent to fewer than 100 points in four of their first five playoff games in 2019.

*Milwaukee outscored Boston, 33-23, in the third quarter and limited the Celtics to 7-for-21 shooting (1-11 3-PT) in the period. The Bucks have outscored the Celtics by an average of 13.3 points in third quarters over the last three games.

*Milwaukee’s bench outscored Boston’s reserves by 25 points (32-7). The Bucks also held advantages in points in the paint (66-44) and fast break points (22-13).

*Boston’s starting unit combined to score 94 of the team’s 101 points on 42.5% shooting. Kyrie Irving (23 points) and Al Horford (20 points) combined for 43 points.

What’s next?

The Bucks (3-1) will look to finish off the Celtics (1-3) in Game 5 on Wednesday night at Fiserv Forum.

Bucks 123, Celtics 116: Last word

BOSTON | The Milwaukee Bucks took back homecourt with a 123-116 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 Friday night.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

What more can you say about the Greek Freak? His Game 1 performance feels like a distant memory. Giannis nearly recorded a triple-double, finishing with 32 points (8-13 FG, 16-22 FT), 13 rebounds and eight assists.

Aggressive from the start, Giannis lived at the free throw line attacking constantly throughout the night.

Celtics’ star Kyrie Irving was more than frustrated with the calls Giannis was getting. “Guy comes down almost six times in a row and gets free throws,” Irving said. “What are you really going to do? It’s slowing the game down. The run that you would hope to make in a quarter like that doesn’t happen. I mean, he shot 22 on the game. It’s getting ridiculous at this point. It’s just slowing the (expletive) game down.”

Giannis said that he’s going to keep being aggressive and get to the free throw line. Free throws are one thing he does need to improve on. He’s is just 34-50 (68%) from the foul line in this series.

Play of the game: Ersan did what?

Did you see that amazing block in the Bucks game last night? Yes, Giannis stuffed Irving at the rim. No, I’m talking about the “Turkish Hammer,” Ersan Ilyasova. A good defender, but not known for his shot-blocking, Ilyasova made Gordon Hayward think twice about driving to the rim against him again.

The good: The backup guards

George Hill and Pat Connaughton played big roles in Game 3. Coming off the bench, they sparked the Bucks and kept them afloat. Connaughton got going early with eight points on 3-3 shooting in the first quarter. He followed it up with three more points in the second finishing with 14 for the game. Add in a block, an offensive rebound and loads of energy, Connaughton did everything to help Milwaukee take a 2-1 series lead.

“Me and George Hill always talk about bench mob,” Connaughton said. “We’ve got to make sure we bring the energy every single night.”

It was said the Bucks would get good salary cap relief when they traded for Hill earlier in the season. Hill was out to show he was way more than that. He was the second-leading scorer for Milwaukee behind Giannis with 21 points (9-12 FG, 2-3 3PT). In a game where Eric Bledsoe couldn’t find any rhythm, Hill did more than enough to pick up the slack.

“It’s a recurring theme for, I guess, as long as I’ve known George; the more aggressive he is, the better he is,” Budenholzer said. That must be the mentality for everyone on this team. You don’t win playoff games by being passive. Hill and Connaughton were aggressive Friday night and were big reasons why the Bucks got the win.

The not so good: Free throws

The Bucks did a lot of things well but their performance at the free throw line was unacceptable. They did a great job getting to charity stripe but didn’t knock enough down. Milwaukee finished the night 24-36 (66.7%) from the foul line. Giannis had six of the team’s 12 misses. Bledsoe was also 0-4. All that matters is they got the win, but had it been a closer game we may have looked back at the free throw woes being the issue they lose.

The weird: Brown flushes on Giannis, again

Jaylen Brown continues to get the best of Giannis. He put him on a poster in Game 1. Brown converted on a beautiful spin and no-look shot against Giannis in Game 2. Again, in Game 3 he threw one down on the MVP candidate.

Stat of the game: 40

Just like Game 2, it was the third quarter that was the difference for the Bucks. They outscored Boston 40-31 in the third frame. The Bucks outscored the Celtics 51-34 in the first 16 minutes of the second half for a 106-90 lead. Milwaukee never gave the lead back.

“I just think ultimately they made a lot of plays in that quarter and we didn’t,” Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens said.

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

I think the defense and the togetherness as we worked our way through the game and again the third quarter stood out to me that we could get stops and we could get out and go. Guys coming off the bench like George Hill and Pat Connaughton, just fabulous tonight. The spirit of the group is in a good place and now the challenge is to keep it there and get ready for a couple days from now.

Khris Middleton on if they had something to prove against Boston this year…

I don’t think this year we came here to prove a point. It’s different seasons, different teams. We’ve been playing well on the road all year long. We’re not worried about who we’re playing against, really. It’s about us. We forgot about last year. We moved on from it.

In case you missed it:

*Giannis is the first Buck since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974 with at least 30 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists in an NBA Playoffs game.

*The win was Milwaukee’s first playoff win in Boston since May 13, 1987.

*The last time the Bucks won three playoff games in a row on the road was back in 1982 in Philadelphia, then a year later in 1983 getting two in Boston.

*Milwaukee tallied 123 points, matching its scoring output from Game 2 (90 points in Game 1). This is the first time this postseason that the Celtics have allowed 100+ points in consecutive games.

*The Bucks’ bench unit outscored Boston’s bench, 42-16.

*Milwaukee outscored Boston, 68-60, in the second half on 53.8% shooting. The Bucks shot 8-of-16 from beyond the arc over the final two quarters, after shooting 7-of-21 from three in the first half.

What’s next?

The Bucks (2-1) get set for Game 4 against the Celtics (1-2) in Boston on Monday. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:00pm.

Malcolm Brogdon ruled out for Game 3

Malcolm Brogdon’s return to the floor will have to wait for at least one more game.

The Milwaukee Bucks guard is listed as out on the official NBA injury report for Friday’s Game 3 in Boston against the Celtics.

Brogdon hasn’t played since suffering a torn plantar fascia tear in his right foot on March 15. The timetable for his return was set at six-to-eight weeks, which would have left him coming back around this time.

The Bucks have been ramping up his workload in recent days and teammates have said he looks good.

Before going down, Brogdon was having a remarkable year, averaging 15.6 points per game and pulling off the rare feat of shooting above 50-percent from the floor, 40-percent on 3-pointers and 90-percent from the free throw line.

Bucks 123, Celtics 102: Last word

MILWAUKEE | Needing a win to avoid going to the east-coast down 2-0, the Milwaukee Bucks defeated the Boston Celtics 123-102 on Tuesday.

Player of the game: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Coming off one of his worst performances this season, Giannis played terrific in Game 2. He led the Bucks with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds. It was his second game of the playoffs with 25+ points and 10+ rebounds, and the fifth such game of his career.

“Usually, after a [bad] game and a bad loss at home, you get a little bit fed up and start hesitating,” Giannis said. “All I can do is trust my teammates, go back and look at the tape to see what I did right and wrong. I just came into Game 2 with the mindset of being aggressive and making the right plays.

Giannis looked like a completely different player. He was aggressive and attacked the paint time and time again. The Celtics sent him to the line 18 times. Also, Giannis looked to feed his teammates more. When Boston collapsed on him inside, he was ready to kick it out to the open man.

Needing to play with more effort was the theme coming out of practice Monday afternoon and Giannis led the way.

Play of the game: Greek Freak shimmy

If there is a weakness in his game it’s the long-ball, but Giannis hit two of them tonight and was feeling it after. But what he did after knocking one down in the face of Celtics’ center Aron Baynes is what got him the play of the game.

https://twitter.com/SportsCenter/status/1123405614447833088

The good: Closing the third

Basketball is a game of runs. The Bucks went on their biggest run of the game to close the third quarter. They outscored Boston 24-4 in the final 7:41 of the frame. This is the stretch that really put the Celtics out of reach.

“To be honest with you, I thought we were competing and playing well defensively for the whole game,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “The third quarter, maybe it was just a little bit of wearing them down or whatever it is, but we just stuck to what we were doing. Our guys were able to create some turnovers, create some misses, take care of the boards and get out and run. I thought the defense from the beginning was quality.”

Milwaukee did this a lot during the regular season. They can pull away late in games because their effort is usually there for a full 48 minutes. Boston looked worn down late in the third. The Celtics made careless passes which led to turnovers and missed several shots they normally make.

It all goes back to playing with effort and being themselves for the Bucks. They didn’t play hard enough in Game 1 according to every member of the team that was asked about it. That didn’t happen in Game 2.

The not so good: Slow start

The way Game 2 started was very similar to the way Game 1 started. Milwaukee had trouble knocking down their shots. They finished the quarter shooting 35% (7-20 FG). Giannis didn’t make a field goal but finished the frame with five points thanks to free throws.

Stat of the game: 20

All 12 members of the Bucks that saw action attempted at least one three-pointer. As a team they shot 47 of them, making an NBA Playoffs franchise-record 20.

Khris Middleton contributed the most from downtown as he hit seven of his 10 attempts from beyond the arc.

“We have to do it a lot better than we did,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said. “It’s tough, he is an All-Star. He is one of the 12 best players in the East this year. He has had a good year and he has started that in the playoffs last year against us. We have to do a better job on him. We did not do a good enough job on him. He still might make it, but he got too many looks.”

What they said:

Budenholzer on the win…

Obviously, I think that’s more what we’re accustomed to seeing. I liked our spirit, our activity and our competitiveness up and down the roster. Giannis, Khris and Eric really set the tone. We just need to kind of capture that, take it to Boston with us and play that way out there.

Stevens on the loss…

I thought they dominated a lot in the first half and we were lucky to be down by four. They owned their space on both ends of the court better than we did. I thought our reaction to that was to settle on offense and it led to some run outs. Then it just steamrolled on us. They were great tonight, deserved to win, and we need to look at what we can do better. We knew they were going to be really good tonight and we talked about matching their urgency, meeting their urgency, but we didn’t do that and even in the first half you could see.

In case you missed it:

*This was the fourth game of the playoffs that the Bucks have won by 20+ points. The 21-point win also marked Milwaukee’s largest victory in a Conference Semifinal game since 1983 (116-95, Game 1 vs BOS).

*Milwaukee hauled in 54 rebounds as a team, tallying their fourth 50-rebound playoff game this postseason.

*The Bucks held the Celtics to 39.5% shooting on the night. This is the third time this postseason that Milwaukee has held its opponent to under 40% shooting.

*Pat Connaughton grabbed a playoff-career-high 11 rebounds, marking the first playoff game of his career with double-digit rebounds.

*The Celtics were led by Marcus Morris who finished the night with 17 points and matched his playoff-career-high with three three-pointers. This was his third time scoring in double figures this postseason.

*Boston also had Jaylen Brown (16) and Al Horford (15) score in double figures.

What’s next?

Next up the Bucks (1-1) head out to Boston to play the Celtics (1-1) in Game 3 on Friday night. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00pm.