If you turned off the TV or flicked off your radio when the Milwaukee Bucks took a 25-point third quarter lead over the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night, you might be surprised to find that the Green had several opportunities to win the game in the final minute.
But in a classic case of “too little, too late,” the C’s came up short.
Daniel Theis missed a three at the horn as the Celtics fell 121-119 in a game they really had no business being in at the end. But after reaching their nadir in the third – notably complaining about calls and failing to get back on defense on multiple occasions – something clicked that would lead Boston to multiple shots at the win in the game’s final two minutes.
Jaylen Brown had 24 points (10-of-16 shooting) and 10 rebounds, while Kemba Walker scored 23 for Boston. Khris Middleton led Milwaukee with 27 points (11-of-20 shooting) and 13 rebounds. Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied just 13 points for the victors.
The team with the most regular season wins in the NBA over the last two seasons came into Wednesday night’s matchup winners of seven straight. They scored 70 points in the first half and looked completely in control of the contest.
The lead ballooned to 90-65 after a Donte DiVincenzo bomb with 6:28 remaining in the third. But the Celtics woke up with a 16-3 run to make things more respectable, eventually exiting the frame down 14.
The play of Grant Williams, Robert Williams and Jeff Teague off the bench was a factor.
It was an 11-point game following another DiVincenzo triple with 4:03 remaining in the contest. The Celtics once again clamped down and held the Bucks to a single field goal and a free throw the rest of the way. But it was enough for Milwaukee to get the duke.
The Celtics trailed by 11 at the half despite shooting 51 percent from the floor and holding the reigning, back-to-back league MVP to four points on 1-of-5 shooting. Milwaukee’s 10-of-19 first half performance from downtown, with 15 points apiece from Middleton and Bobby Portis, were a big part of that deficit.
Boston also attempted just one free throw in the first 24 minutes.
The loss drops the Celtics to 21-23 (8-16 away from TD Garden) on the season. Milwaukee moves to 29-14, just a game and a half out of the top spot in the East.
With the NBA trade deadline Thursday at 3 p.m., the two teams will meet again Friday evening in Milwaukee. Coverage starts at 7 p.m. on 98.5 The Sports Hub.
Sean Sylver can be heard on 98.5 The Sports Hub. Talk hoops with him on Twitter @TheSylverFox.