There will be Game 7. The Boston Celtics managed to save the match ball on their visit to Milwaukee and have earned the right to play for a place in the Eastern Finals at home. Udoka’s team won again at the Fiserv Forum, this time by 95-108, thus avoiding elimination and giving this spectacular series the outcome it deserves.
Jayson Tatum was undoubtedly largely responsible for the victory flying to Boston. Despite the fact that the visitors were clearly superior for many minutes, it was the display of the forward in the second half that cut off any attempt to react by the locals. At times, practically all of his possessions passed through his hands, and he was in charge of taking the ball to the hoop again and again and dealing blow after blow to a Bucks who were looking to repeat the miracle of the fifth game.
After being down 18 midway through the third quarter (68-50), the locals came within just 4 points in the last period, but it was then that Tatum, who had already scored a not inconsiderable 31 points, took on stripes. With 10 consecutive points, Jayson cut off Milwaukee’s momentum and once again gave the Massachusetts team a more comfortable lead, putting the icing on the cake of a new display in the playoffs that are finally placing him among the league’s undisputed superstars. The forward finished the match with 46 points, his best score of the series, 16 of which came in the last quarter and completely silenced a Fiserv Forum that had lit up with faith in the comeback.
Many of his baskets came in isolation, a situation the Bucks had little to do about. The rain of 3-pointers in the first half forced Budenholzer to order assignment changes on every block, but once his charges started doing this, the Celtics had the option to pick defender a la carte. Tatum took advantage of this adjustment to abuse Grayson Allen and George Hill, who were by far the weakest links in the local defense and who could do little against their recital, although, nevertheless, Jayson also scored very complex baskets against other defenders.
No less monstrous was the performance of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who with 44 points, 20 rebounds and 6 assists became the first player to finish a playoff game with +40 and +20 since Shaquille O’Neal did it in 2001. As It has been common in many moments of the series, the Greek had to support his own with very little help for many minutes, and this time when others stepped forward it was too late.
Jrue Holiday was the second scorer with 17 points, a figure that, in the absence of Khris Middleton, is once again a bit short. He did not help the low efficiency of the rotation men, because saving Pat Connaughton and his 14 points, none reached double figures. The hieratic nature of Milwaukee’s attack throughout the tie was seen again on the parquet, which, against a defense like Boston’s, makes it very difficult to generate baskets unless you are a Greek wonder with 2.11 height.
Tatum’s companions were better, specifically Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart. The first ended with 22 points, while the point guard reached 21, 14 of which came in a first quarter in which he did a lot of damage to the local defense with triples. There were also moments of brilliance for Derrick White, who, although he finished with only 9 points, left great actions and was undoubtedly the best among the visiting secondary.
The last match of the tie will take place this Sunday at 9:30 p.m. (Spanish peninsular time), and the winner will access the Conference Finals wearing the band of the main candidate for the ring. The lofty level offered by both teams has caused that feeling to be had for several days, because, although everything can happen in a seven-game series and the Heat will be a very complicated rival for either of the two, it seems that we are witnessing a duel between what are the two best teams in the NBA at the moment.
(Cover photo: Stacy Revere/Getty Images)