MILWAUKEE – The Boston Celtics were down big to the Milwaukee Bucks, and managed to make it a down-to-the-wire finish, the kind of game we’ve seen them find a way to win often.
Not today, as the Bucks held off Boston’s rally to escape with a 104-102 win.
Giannis Antetokounmpo tipped in a Malcolm Brogdon miss with five seconds to play for what would be the game-winning basket.
After a Celtics timeout, Marcus Morris’ jumper rimmed in and out as time expired.
And so now we have a series tied at two games apiece, with Game 5 in Boston on Tuesday and a return to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Thursday.
Jaylen Brown had a career-high 34 points for Boston while Jayson Tatum had 21 points. For the Bucks, Antetokounmpo had 27 points while Khris Middleton had 23.
After falling behind by as many as 20 points, Boston mounted a 22-10 run to end the third quarter.
And that surge had the Celtics well within striking distance, 75-67, going into the fourth.
Boston continued its strong play with a 10-2 run to start the quarter that included a lay-up by Marcus Morris to tie the game at 77-all with more than nine minutes to play.
But the Bucks bounced back with a 6-2 spurt that included a pair of 3’s by Thon Maker and Eric Bledsoe.
The Milwaukee surge continued, with Bledsoe sinking a pair of free throws after being fouled by Terry Rozier that increased the Bucks’ lead to 90-85 with 5:27 to play.
Boston was indeed playing a better, more complete brand of basketball that was evident from the opening tip as they opened the game with a 12-5 run.
But in reality, the score should have been even more lopsided when you factor in the open misses by the Celtics that kept them from really putting some much-needed distance between them and Milwaukee.
And as was the case in Game 3, the Bucks turned to their second unit and they once again delivered a first-rate performance.
Jabari Parker, a key contributor in Game 3 after being a non-factor in Games 1 and 2 who grumbled about his diminished role, was once again coming up big for the Bucks.
At the half, Parker had 12 points along with some impressive defensive plays that included stripping Marcus Morris.
Maker was still making the Celtics pay from 3-point range and with his help defense.
Meanwhile, the Celtics looked like a team that was searching for someone, anyone to provide a spark.
Brown was as close as we saw to a Boston player bringing that dynamic to the game.
With Boston trailing 51-35 at the half, Brown was doing his part to contribute as he scored 15 of his career-high 34 points in the first half.