The Milwaukee Bucks lost a golden opportunity to gain the upper hand in the series, losing 87-92 to the Boston Celtics in a pivotal game 5.
What went right?
In a game where Milwaukee looked completely disinterested in competing, there were still a few bright spots. Khris Middleton continued his scorching-hot postseason on Tuesday, scoring 23 points and sinking 3 three-pointers. He’s been Milwaukee’s best player this postseason and didn’t slow down tonight even with the return of pesky defender, Marcus Smart. Khris connected on 9-21 field goals, and a lot of his shots rimmed out. This was a less efficient game for Middleton, but without his performance, the Bucks easily lose by 20+.
Jabari Parker looked timid in the first half but came alive in the second half. Especially in the 4th quarter. Parker was excellent on the offensive boards down the stretch and provided multiple crucial extra possessions for the Bucks. His hustle in the 4th quarter was outstanding, but it would’ve been nice for it to come out earlier in the game. JP poured in 17 points and hauled in 8 rebounds in 32 minutes. Jabari has been very vocal about his lack of playing time, but he’s turned the page since game 2. He’s earned his minutes.
What went wrong?
Everything. This was another game that the Bucks simply couldn’t get over the hump. They’d find themselves in a 16-point hole and quickly cut the deficit to 4 points, only to crumble time and time again. The Bucks also left far too many points at the free throw line, they went 14-20 from the charity stripe. Every point is very crucial in the postseason, and the Bucks simply have to be better than this. The referees also didn’t help much, again. More notably, when Al Horford had the ball in his hands well after the shot clock expired and nothing was called. As a result, the Celtics got another extra possession. The refereeing in this series has been very wishy-washy, and tonight was just garbage.
Giannis Antetokounmpo, although putting up 16 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks didn’t seem to really get “into” the game. This was a very slow-paced game, and Giannis is undoubtedly a rhythm player. The slower pace definitely had an effect on his offensive game, and he certainly wasn’t as aggressive. He tried getting his teammates involved often, which is great, but the Bucks need their superstar to score in a game like this. Boston defended Giannis well, but he really hurt himself more than anything this game.
Eric Bledsoe continues to have a rather forgetful postseason. His performance tonight was really the tip of the iceberg for Bucks fans. He looked completely out of synch and just didn’t care for most of the game. His body language was pathetic, and his shot selection was even more atrocious. Bledsoe hit 5-15 shots for 16 points and only had 3 assists. He also got into a shoving match with Boston point guard Terry Rozier, I would be mad too if I was getting cooked like you are, Eric. Milwaukee has gotten a whole lot of nothing from Bledsoe this postseason, and he’s caused more harm than good. Is he really the guy you want running the show for your team? Probably not.
Although his final stats won’t blow you away, Marcus Smart was absolutely the X-factor in this game. In fact, he could be the man that tips this series in the favor of the Celtics. His defensive tenacity and attitude really elevate the Celtics defensively. He disrupted many Bucks possesions, and was very vocal on defense. He’s a pitbull.