The Boston Celtics won their first five postseason games, including Game 1 against the top-ranked Milwaukee Bucks. They're now on the verge of being eliminated from the playoffs.
The Bucks seized a commanding series lead after defeating the Boston Celtics 113-101 in Game 4 on Monday night. Giannis Antetokounmpo scored a game-high 39 points despite picking up foul trouble early on. He also added 16 rebounds in the win.
It was a battle early on during the first half with both the Bucks and Celtics putting on a defensive show. However, the Bucks began to pull away in the third quarter after outscoring the Celtics by 10 points in the period. Milwaukee continued to hold off Boston in the fourth quarter as they held the Celtics to just 37.8 percent shooting from the field for the game.
Boston must win at Fiserv Forum in Game 5 or they'll be eliminated. Just 11 teams in NBA postseason history have come back from a 3-1 series deficit.
While the Celtics slogged through a disappointing regular season, Kyrie Irving's motto all along was to just wait for the playoffs. And given what he's done in the postseason over his career, it was hard not to believe him. After all, Playoff Kyrie was what the Celtics had been waiting for ever since trading for him in the summer of 2017. But ever since Game 1 against the Bucks, Irving hasn't delivered on his promise. He had one of his worst playoff games ever in Game 2, needed 22 shots to get 29 points in Game 3 and failed to show up yet again in Game 3. In Games 2-4, Irving is averaging 20.3 points on a brutal 19-of-62 from the field. The Celtics have had other problems over the last three games, but none of them mattered as much as Irving not showing up
In Game 1, the Bucks made a big run at the end of the first half to cut the Celtics' lead to just two points, and it seemed like they would take over in the second half as they did so many times in the regular season. Instead, the Celtics ran them out of the gym in the third quarter en route to their stunning win. That proved to be an omen for the series, but not in the way the Celtics hoped. The third quarter became the most important frame of the series, and the team who has won the third has won every single game. In Game 2, the Bucks outscored the Celtics by 21 in the frame and in Game 3 their advantage was nine points.On Monday night, it looked like the Celtics would have a chance to reverse that trend after Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton each picked up their fourth foul and had to go to the bench. Instead, George Hill and the Bucks' reserves took over to help the Bucks to a plus-10 mark in the frame. From that point there was little hope for the Celtics.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was flummoxed by the Celtics' defensive game plan in Game 1, but since then he's shown why he's one of the favorites to win MVP this season. He put on an MVP-level performance in Game 4 to put the Bucks one game from their first trip to the Eastern Conference finals since 2001. Even though he struggled a bit with foul trouble and had to sit out for much of the third quarter, the Greek Freak finished with 39 points on 15-of-22 shooting, 16 rebounds and four assists in a dominant performance. There was no hope for the Celtics' defense on this night, as Giannis got wherever he wanted, whenever he wanted with a versatile offensive performance that showcased his unique mix of strength and athleticism.