Jaylen Brown and Jabari Parker

Jeff Hanisch/USA Today Sports

Bucks 97, Celtics 86: And so it all comes down to Game 7 as Boston misfires

John Tomase
April 26, 2018 - 11:16 pm

When you think about it, it's amazing this has even been a series.

The Celtics opened their first-round matchup with the Bucks without Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis. They won the first three games in Boston anyway behind some explosive scoring from Jaylen Brown and solid play from point guard Terry Rozier, which was necessary, since he was basically the only point guard on the roster.

But a case can be made that the two best players on the floor in this series start for Milwaukee. There's no question that forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is the only superstar on either team, and sharpshooter Khris Middleton might be better than anyone on the Celtics.

And so it should come as no surprise, then, that with the Bucks facing elimination on their home court on Thursday that their two best players would deliver.

Antetokounmpo, silenced in a Game 5 loss in Boston, erupted for 31 points 14 rebounds, while Middleton missed just one shot en route to 16 points in Milwaukee's 97-86 victory. Game 7 will be held Saturday night at the Garden.

The Celtics had their chances in this one, especially after opening a 31-24 lead in the second quarter. But the C's couldn't shoot straight, making just 37 percent of their shots from the floor and shooting a woeful 10-for-36 (27.8 percent) on 3-pointers as Milwaukee pulled away down the stretch.

One game after giving the Celtics a huge lift with his return in Game 5, guard Marcus Smart shot just 2-for-9 and took a minus-14. Guard Terry Rozier needed 17 shots to score 16 points and missed eight of his 12 3-pointers. Marcus Morris went just 5-for-14 and was particularly bad in the fourth quarter when the Celtics were trying to keep the game close.

Rookie Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 22 points, while Al Horford contributed a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.

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