The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics head back to Boston with the series tied 2-2. The Celtics were able to overcome the hard-charging Bucks to even the series in Game 4. Now with the series back in Boston, can the Celtics protect their home court? Which team is the right NBA pick?
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
Wednesday, May 11th – 07:00 PM EDT at TD Garden
The Milwaukee Bucks were in complete control of their game and the series against the Boston Celtics for the first three quarters on Monday night. Then Milwaukee melted down in the 4th quarter, allowing 43 points to the Celtics, and sent the series back to Boston tied.
The 43 points in the fourth quarter were the most a Bucks team has given up under coach Mike Budenholzer in the playoffs. It was a demoralizing performance from the Bucks, who allowed the Celtics to get whatever they wanted on offense with the game on the line.
The Bucks had their chance to shift into commanding control of the series, now all the momentum has shifted to Boston.
The Bucks' loss of Khris Middleton was never more evident than in Game 4. With Middleton out, Jrue Holiday became the number 2 option on offense. Holiday was not up to the task, going a meager 5-22 from the floor. Holiday was forcing shots rather than getting his teammates involved when his shots were not falling.
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It was bad shooting execution and even worse basketball IQ for Holiday to keep forcing up shots when he obviously didn't have it going. This left the brunt of the team's production in the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo and he finally wilted under the insane workload that the Bucks required of him to get this far in this year's postseason.
Antetokounmpo had 34 points and 18 rebounds but took 32 field goal attempts. Giannis was visibly tired on defense in the 4th quarter. Holiday's ineptitude forced Giannis to do too much, and the Greek superstar had nothing left for his team at the end of the game.
As egregious as Jrue Holiday's performance was, that's how sublime the performance of Al Horford was. Horford scored 30 points and was 5-7 from the three-point range. Horford turned back the clock for an all-time performance. The Bucks had decided that they were content with Horford having open shots, and the veteran made them pay.
The Bucks clearly underestimated Horford, and Horford took advantage of their miscalculations. The 30 points were a career-high for Horford in the postseason.
Jayson Tatum finally found himself in the fourth quarter and ended up with 30 points. Tatum's clutch shot-making was key, and the Bucks had no answer for the Celtic star forward. Tatum was able to get to the rim as well as be lethal from the mid-range and from behind the arc.
It was the best showing from Tatum so far in this series. Has Tatum figured something out in the way that the Bucks defend them? Will Tatum be able to carry the fourth quarter momentum for the rest of the series?
Marcus Smart vs. Jrue Holiday
When Jrue Holiday was acquired two years ago, he was thought to be the missing piece to put the Bucks together. That was the case last season when he was the number 3 offensive option during the Bucks title run. With Middleton out with injury, Holiday is thrust into the number 2 scoring role.
This is a daunting task as Holiday is also one of the primary engines behind the Bucks' defense. Holiday is being asked a lot, but he is a max player and the Bucks did give up a lot of assets to acquire him.
Holiday needs to prove that he can step up and be the capable second option. Holiday needs to enforce his will. Coach Mike Budenholzer can also do a better job of getting Holiday involved by running plays for him to allow him to gain a favorable position off-ball, rather than making him work off the dribble for every shot.
What they were trying in the last game simply did not work. Holiday needs to be more of a contributor. Going against Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart will be a tough task. Smart does have the ability to shut almost everybody down, so Holiday will need one of his best efforts.
If Holiday is able to bounce back and prove why the Bucks were right to make such a big investment in him, the Bucks have a great chance to steal Game 5. If Marcus Smart is able to shut down Holiday again, the Bucks will become too easy to stop, and the Celtics will grab the series lead.
The Bucks bounce back after their terrible performance in Game 4. Jrue Holiday was streaky in the playoffs last year and oftentimes when things looked the worst for him, he was able to bounce back with a fantastic performance.
They will need such a performance from Holiday tonight, but he will prove to be better than the player he showed to be in Game 4. I don't think the Bucks will fall apart again in the fourth quarter and they will learn from their mistakes. Our bet for tonight's pivotal Game 5 is the Milwaukee Bucks +5.5.
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