Milwaukee controlled its Game 5 blowout of Boston from end to end behind a galvanized team effort. The Bucks move onto the Eastern Conference Finals while Kyrie Irving probably played his final game as a Celtic.
Only 11-of-249 teams dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole in NBA playoff history. That total wouldn’t grow to 12.
The last time Milwaukee beat Boston in a playoff series was 1983. From the opening tip, the raucous Milwaukee crowd acted like they were giving away free cheese curds.
Brad Stevens opted to start Aaron Baynes, saying he’d be more effective with the opening unit. With Boston coming out in a two-big lineup, Milwaukee pick-and-rolled everything, taking advantage of mismatches. The Bucks began the game on an 8-0 run.
The Celtics had to change it up. They countered with a 12-0 run of their own behind the rabid energy of Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris. Boston deployed the tactic of trying to build a wall any time Giannis Antetokounmpo stormed down the lane. Antetokounmpo labored to score most of the night but impacted every other aspect of the game.
Kyrie Irving couldn’t find his shot and consistently got beat on defense. The normally-calm Al Horford blew his top and got T’d up. Boston’s body language sagged as their deficit ballooned to 13 at halftime.
The Bucks had five offensive rebounds on a singular possession during the third quarter. At that point, it was effectively over. The Celtics played flat-footed and looked ready to pack it in for the summer from there on out. Milwaukee avenged last season’s first-round loss to Boston with an exclamation point.
Irving struggled this series, following his 7-of-22 shooting performance in Game 4 with a 6-of-21 in Game 5. At least Game 4 came with 10 dimes and 6 boards. Irving finished with 1 assist, 1 rebound and a plus-minus of -25 in probably his last game as a Celtic.
Kyrie is Point Guard Melo That’s it. I’ll happily die on this hill.
Milwaukee’s supporting players came up huge At the end of the day, the supporting cast made all the difference for the Bucks. Nikola Mirotic put up a double-double, Malcolm Brogdon chipped in with 10 in his first game back from a foot injury, while Pat Connaughton, George Hill and Ersan Ilyasova all brought energy and got buckets when Milwaukee needed a pick-me-up.
Boston’s weird season comes to a close Boston came into the year with celestial expectations after making the Eastern Conference Finals ahead of its developmental schedule. The return of Irving and Gordon Hayward were supposed to usher them onto a higher plateau. Instead, Hayward didn’t look like his old self and Irving didn’t vibe with the team. Ultimately, the glut of usage stunted the young guys’ growth and everything teetered.
The Celtics head into summer with the obvious questions of free agency with Irving and if Stevens is everything he was expected to be with the step back he took as a coach this season.