Coming soon to NBC Sports Boston, "Anything is Possible - The Story of the 2008 Celtics". This documentary looks back at a memorable season in Celtics history that brought together three future Hall of Famers.
MILWAUKEE -- Khris Middleton knows what’s at stake so there’s no need to sugarcoat or downplay the significance of tonight’s Game 6 matchup between the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks.
“Just win or go home,” Middleton said. “You can’t leave nothing on the line.”
Boston will come into tonight’s game with a similar approach, aware that regardless of what happens in Game 6, they will live to see another game at the TD Garden on Saturday at 8 p.m. EST. They could play Game 7 against Milwaukee or Game 1 of the second round against Philadelphia.
But the Celtics will tell you the sooner they can put away this Bucks team, the better off they’ll be.
At this point in the series, there are no true surprises for either team.
“Fifth time playing each other, you’re gonna know each other’s game pretty well by now,” said Milwaukee guard Matthew Dellavedova. “So it’s definitely some things we can do better, and we’ll execute better in game six.”
Like most playoff series, adjustments have a way of often being the difference between winning and losing.
Milwaukee struck first by inserting Malcolm Brogdan into the starting lineup from Game 3 on, to replace Tony Snell who has struggled shooting the ball (29.4 percent) most of this series. And a back injury to John Henson afforded more playing time to ex-Celtic Tyler Zeller and Thon Maker, with the latter having dominant performances in Games 3 and 4, but being a non-factor in Boston’s Game 5 win which gave the Celtics a 3-2 series lead.
Boston has since countered with Marcus Smart making his playoff debut this season in Game 5 after being out six weeks with a right thumb injury, while Semi Ojeleye got his first NBA start in Boston’s Game 5 win as well.
“It made it a little bit easier for us (defensively),” said Jaylen Brown, referring to Ojeleye’s first NBA start. “Because we can switch . . . we’re all the same. That made it a lot easier for us.”
"It’s gonna come down to who owns their space, who wants it the most and who’s gonna fight for it,” Brown said. “All that X’s and O’s and stuff . . . it’s gonna come down to that (who wants it, fights for it more) at the end of the day.”
Terry Rozier added, “It’s gonna be a dog fight but we look to come out on top.”
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MILWAUKEE -- The NBA’s two-minute report from Boston’s 92-87 Game 5 win on Tuesday confirmed what many thought at the time: A 3-point heave by Al Horford with 1:18 remaining in the fourth quarter and the Celtics leading 84-79 was not released prior to the 24-second shot clock expiring, and the Bucks should have been awarded the ball.
Following the game, Milwaukee interim head coach Joe Prunty was vocal in his belief that the officials made a mistake in not calling a 24-second violation. The lead official, Ken Mauer, told a pool reporter that the play was not reviewable because Horford missed the shot. Had he made it, the referees could have reviewed it.
“The rule states that under two minutes we are not allowed to review a potential 24-second violation unless the ball goes into the basket,” Mauer said.
Prunty understood the reason for the refusal to review the play, but that didn’t make it any easier to deal with.
The Bucks were focused on getting the ball back and, trailing 84-79, would have had a chance to make it a one-possession game with about a minute to play. The call didn't cost Milwaukee any points, even though the Celtics successfully rebounded Horford's miss and retained possession; Marcus Morris subsequently missed a shot. Still, Boston was able to take about 20 seconds off the clock.
“That was a huge stop to get in Game 5 of a playoff series where both teams are putting everything on the line,” Prunty said after practice on Wednesday. “That’s a tough time to have a missed call. I know for me, I had a great view of it. So what I thought was a shot-clock violation was not called.”
In Sunday's Game 4, the NBA said Milwaukee's Khris Middleton should have been called for fouling Jaylen Brown with less than a minute to play as Brown drove to the basket attempting to extend Boston's 100-99 lead. Instead Brown lost the ball and the Bucks eventuallly pulled out a 104-102 victory.
That specific call was one of 15 made by the officials in the final two minutes of play. Of the calls made, the other 14 were correct calls or correct non-calls upon review.