Boston Celtics

May 7, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) drives for the basket against Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III (44) during the second quarter during game three of the second round for the 2022 NBA playoffs at Fiserv Forum. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Al Horford was a split-second too late on a tip-in that would have sent the game to overtime as the Milwaukee Bucks took advantage of some home cooking and escaped with a 103-101 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of their second round playoff series on Saturday afternoon.

Horford’s bid came after Marcus Smart intentionally bricked a free throw in the closing seconds of the fourth quarter. Replays showed Smart had been fouled in the act of shooting a three-pointer, but officials awarded him just two shots.

A victory in the rough-and-tumble affair gave the Bucks a 2-1 series lead.

The home team nearly fumbled things away, losing composure in the fourth while Al Horford (22 points, 16 rebounds, five assists and two blocks for the game) keyed a Boston barrage. The Celtics took care of the basketball, clamped down defensively, and even briefly took the lead on a Jaylen Brown free throw with 1:49 remaining. But Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday got to the basket on consecutive possessions to put the Celtics down three, leading to the Smart three-point attempt.

Antetokounmpo paced Milwaukee with 42 points, 12 rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks.

The Bucks outscored Boston 34-17 in the third, quickly flipping the Celtics’ halftime advantage by converting points off turnovers. Antetokounmpo personally outscored the entire Boston roster for much of the third as the Milwaukee lead hit a game-high 14 late in the quarter. Jayson Tatum (4-for-19 for the game) and the Celtics struggled mightily from the floor, shooting 6-for-20 as a unit in the period, with seven turnovers and seven fouls.

Jrue Holiday logged 25 points and three steals for the winners, while Brook Lopez double-doubled with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Jaylen Brown paced Boston with 27 points – adding 12 boards – and Derrick White tallied 14 off the bench.

It was an ugly first half from an aesthetic standpoint, with the clubs combining to shoot 36 percent from the field and 7-for-36 (19 percent) from downtown. Some rugged play featured Antetokounpo plowing over multiple Boston defenders, a hard foul by the Greek Freak on a  Tatum transition slam (resulting in a three-point play for Boston) and a missed goaltending call on the former MVP. Despite this, a wide-open Grant Williams triple gave Boston a 50-46 lead at the half.

Milwaukee led by a 22-19 margin after one, with Tatum limited to a quiet two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

Smart returned to the floor after missing Game 2, posting nine points on 1-of-8 shooting.

Game 3 is Monday night in Milwaukee. Pregame coverage starts at 7:00 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.