The Bucks took out the Celtics again and can now wrap up the series at home on Wednesday, while the Rockets beat the Warriors again and tied their series up at 2-2 on Monday night.
Bucks 113, Celtics 101 – Bucks lead series 3-1, Game 5 Wednesday @ Milwaukee
The Bucks handled the Celtics again on Monday night and are one win away from going to their first Eastern Conference Finals appearance since 2001. Giannis Antetokounmpo was a monster once again and led the Bucks with 39 points, 16 rebounds, four assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers on 15-of-22 shooting. Giannis looks like he wants it more than almost anyone else in these playoffs and it’s hard to imagine the Celtics winning three straight games against Milwaukee, as that’s what it would take for them to advance to the ECF. George Hill was the second-leading scorer for the Bucks, despite coming off the bench, and finished with 15 points, four rebounds, five assists and a 3-pointer, while starters Khris Middleton (13 points, 7 assists, 4-of-19 shooting) and Eric Bledsoe (13 points, 1 steal, 2 blocks) each scored 13. This series has really been about the dominance of Giannis, as well as Milwaukee’s bench playing so well. Pat Connaughton came through once again with nine points, 10 rebounds, a 3-pointer and a block, and has been a DFS value play, along with Hill.
The Celtics are well coached and have a solid team with a deep bench, but they don’t have anyone as good as Giannis, and it shows when you watch these games. All five Celtics starters put up solid numbers, but didn’t shoot it well (37.8 percent as a team and 9-for-41 from downtown), as Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Al Horford and Kyrie Irving all scored between 16 and 23 points, and Morris, Tatum and Irving all double-doubled in the loss. Horford filled up the stat sheet with 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, a block and three 3-pointers, and Brown had 16 points, seven rebounds, two assists, a steal and two 3-pointers. The Celtics were led by Irving’s 23 points and 10 dimes, but he hit just 7-of-22 shots and 1-of-7 3-pointers in what might have been his last home game in Boston – ever. He can become a free agent this summer and after all the regular-season turmoil in Boston, combined with a likely first-round exit, it would not be surprising to see him go. Irving’s in a terrible slump, hitting just 19-of-62 (31 percent) from the field over his last three games. The Celtics got Marcus Smart back from his oblique injury, but he hit just 1-of-7 shots for three points in 15 minutes. Brad Stevens says he’s up for the challenge of having to win three in a row, but his chances would be a whole lot better if Giannis wasn’t standing in the way.
Rockets 112, Warriors 108 – Series tied 2-2 with Game 5 Wednesday @ Golden State
The Rockets held a fairly comfortable 10 to 17-point lead for most of the game, although the Warriors went on a 7-0 run late and finally cut the lead to 110-108, and James Harden even missed a free throw to make things even more interesting. But Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant both missed open 3-pointers and Chris Paul iced the game with a free throw, giving the Rockets a four-point win to tie the series at 2-2. They say an NBA playoff series doesn’t start until the home team loses, and we’re still waiting for a road team to win in this one.
James Harden led the way with 38 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two blocks, hitting 13-of-29 shots and 6-of-17 free throws in the win. Eric Gordon came through with 20 points, four rebounds, a steal and a block, but hit just 6-of-17 shots and 2-of-12 3-pointers on the night. P.J. Tucker has been an unsung hero and double-doubled with 17 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers, Chris Paul had 13 points, eight boards, five dimes, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, and Clint Capela was quiet with six points, nine rebounds and zero blocks in just 21 minutes. Austin Rivers made a little noise off the bench with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists, two steals and two 3-pointers on 4-of-10 shooting in 33 minutes.
For the Warriors, Kevin Durant led the way wit 34 points, seven boards, five assists, a steal, a block and two 3-pointers, while Stephen Curry broke out of his funk, hitting 12-of-25 shots and 4-of-14 3-pointers for 30 points, four rebounds, eight assists and a steal. Draymond Green filled the stat sheet with 15 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block, but Klay Thompson wasn’t feeling it on Monday, hitting just 5-of-15 shots and 1-of-6 3-pointers for 11 points, seven rebounds and a steal. Green took a shot to the head, but was able to stay in the game for GSW. Andre Iguodala made a couple clutch plays, but hit just 3-of-9 shots for seven points and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. Kevon Looney was the only bench player of note with seven points and three rebounds in 22 minutes. DeMarcus Cousins said on Monday that he hopes to be back during these playoffs from his torn quad, but whether or not that will actually happen is still up for debate.
Tuesday’s slate features the Sixers at the Raptors at 8 p.m. on TNT and then the Blazers at Nuggets at 10:30 p.m. Both series are tied at 2-2.