Five Thoughts: Bucks vs Celtics Game 3
The Milwaukee Bucks are legit. Paul Pierce is backtracking faster than James Dolan scurrying off to band practice. Giannis Antetokounmpo has returned to looking like the MVP of the 2018-19 Season, and the Boston Celtics are in some trouble.
The Bucks won Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals 123-116, winning the game in the third quarter, where they outscored the Celtics 40-31 — the difference in the other three quarters between the two teams was actually +2 to Boston.
Milwaukee now leads the series 2-1, with the Bucks retaking home court advantage in the best of seven matchup. The Boston Celtics are now facing a must win situation for Game 4 in TD Garden.
Here are five thoughts on Game 3 of the series.
Giannis isn’t going to continue to struggle against Al Horford and the Celtics
The Greek Freak was in total control of Game Three. Total. Giannis finished the contest with 32 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks on a team high 39 minutes of play. He did this on a scorching 72% from the field, only attempting one three-point shot, and basically getting whatever he wanted near the rim.
In fact, according to ESPN Stats & Info, it was the 10th game this season where Giannis scored 30+ points with all of his buckets coming from either within the paint or from the free throw line. No other player has done it more than once this season.
Giannis shot an incredible 22 free throws. The rest of the Milwaukee Bucks team shot a total of 14.
Al Horford putting the clamps on Antetokounmpo in Game 1 of the series was fun to talk about, and to throw around the statistics that went with it, but any thought that Horford was going to stop Giannis the whole series was a ridiculous one.
All those free throws
The Boston Celtics wanted to talk about one thing after Game 3. The free throw shooting of Giannis Antetokounmpo.
“He shot 22 on the game. It’s getting ridiculous at this point. It’s slow the f---ing game down,” Irving said in the post-game press conference.
The comments come after Celtics’ Marcus Morris responded to hearing about Antetokounmpo accusing the Celtics of excessive fouling with, “Please! Borderline not fouling his ass, with him getting calls.”
Breaking down whether or not a superstar is getting the calls he deserves, or doesn’t deserve, is an almost impossible science. It’s one that’s however dominated this post-season, as the James Harden jump shot vs. the Klay Thompson close out is the most talked about dynamic happening in the Warriors/Rockets series right now.
22 free throws in a single game is undoubtedly a ton. The amount of free throws in total the Bucks shot on the game was again only 32 though. It’s not an excessive number. In fact, guess how many free throws the Boston Celtics shot in Game 3?
The two teams shot the same amount of free throws. Let me repeat. The two teams shot the same amount of free throws. It’s the manifestation of what could be regarded as a perfectly officiated basketball game.
Giannis is a relentless attacker of the rim who’s surrounded by defenders that are smaller than him. He’s going to get the foul calls. He’s probably going to get a few foul calls he shouldn’t, but he’s earned those.
The 6’3, 188 pound veteran guard played an incredible game of basketball Friday night against the Boston Celtics. Hill finished the game with 21 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 0 turnovers on 29 minutes of play.
Hill was solid in his bench role for the first two games of the series against the Celtics, but undoubtedly elevated his performance in Game 3. Eric Bledsoe started the game incredibly porous, and head coach Mike Budenholzer needed Hill to come in and play some big time minutes.
Hill is one thing the majority of the Bucks’ roster is not — playoff experienced. Hill has played in 109 playoff games in career, starting in 90 of them, and playing big time minutes in the majority of the contests. He’s a calming presence for a team that at times desperately needs it.
Jayson Tatum & Jaylen Brown
If you would have told me before the game that Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum would combine for 38 points, 16 rebounds, 5 assists, 5 steals at home — I would have told you the Celtics won that game.
They obviously did not, and the loss becomes even more troubling for the Boston team. Jason Tatum averaged 4.5 points in the first two games of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, which is a far cry from his second on the team leading scoring numbers from last year’s playoffs.
Tatum undoubtedly responded in Game 3. The second year pro out of Duke finished the contest with 20 points, 11 boards, 3 assists and 3 steals on an impressive 37 minutes of play. Tatum’s strong performance also didn’t take away from his fellow small forward Jaylen Brown, who continued his strong output this series with 18 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
The performance by the two Celtics’ swingmen still wasn’t enough for the team from Boston to win the game. It’s a worrying sentiment for Brad Stevens, and it leaves the question of what the Celtics have to do to beat a Bucks team that is playing well.
Paul Pierce Pulling Playoff Predictions
There is no sport in the United States where the media moves quicker to crown or execute its own champions from the thrones of greatness than basketball. Storylines move so drastically from playoff game to playoff game that finding an announcer who generates any sort of consistent story line is tough.
Paul Pierce took this to an extreme after the first game of the series.
“I don’t know where Milwaukee goes after this. I think it’s (the series) is over.”
Well Milwaukee clearly knew where they were going after Game 1. Now with the Bucks having rattled off two straight wins, Pierce’s quote is not aging so great.
His reaction after Game 3 was actually pretty perfect though.