The Boston Celtics should have won Game 5 against the Milwaukee Bucks. But they do not. How Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday and Co. regained control of the series in the 110-107 victory in Game 5 – and what it all has to do with Joe Pesci.
Where to start after such a dramatic game, with so many twists, so many special actions that will be remembered for a long time, some viewers like it, some do not like it? In fact, it’s clear: You have to start with Nicky Santoro.
Nicky Santoro is a fictional gangster based on the real gangster Anthony Spilotro, portrayed by the 1.63 m tall Joe Pesci in the movie “Casino”. At first glance, this man does not have much in common with Giannis Antetokounmpo, officially 2.11 m tall and very genuine, although some of what he does on the pitch seems quite fictional (and his life story is now being filmed by Disney).
But at second glance? Well, consider this quote from the movie:
“It doesn’t matter how big a guy is, Nicky bites him like a terrier. If someone hits him harder than Nicky, he comes back with a club. If the other chases him away with a knife, he comes with a cannon. “And if one of them pulls faster than Nick, he’d better kill him, because he would keep coming back and forth until one of them was dead.”
The Celtics pulled faster. But they can long be sad that they did not figuratively kill the Bucks when they had the chance.
The Celtics are doing * almost * everything right
The Celtics did many things right in long stretches of the game. More than enough actually to take the win and the 3-2 lead, which in 82 percent of cases will also lead to a victory in the series. They were increasingly looking for the drive, they shared the ball, they were less discouraged by the drop cover.
And above all: They defended themselves excellently again. They could not stop Antetokounmpo, but almost everyone else could. Jrue Holiday had to work hard for each of his degrees and was largely harmless from the two-point country, the Bucks shooters were barely visible, over three quarters of an hour Milwaukee beat only seven threes and greatly missed the creation of Khris Middleton.
Boston was not hot from the outside either, but managed to get light shots at the basket or from the middle distance, the load was spread over several shoulders, Jayson Tatum (34 points) and Jaylen Brown (26) both did their thing. Everything was ready at the beginning of the fourth quarter, TD Garden sensed the conference’s final air, the Celtics leading by 14.
And then Milwaukee showed them why all the clichés about “the heart of a master,” which should not be underestimated, actually have a core of truth.
Bucks: Furious comeback in the final quarter
The Bucks never gave up, unafraid. Pat Connaughton returned to the field and lowered two threes in two and a half minutes. Holidays greeted from the outside. Wes Matthews scored from the outside. Bobby Portis struggled against penalty throws after his own offensive rebound. And in between, always and everywhere, there was also Giannis.
The Greek Freak had already saved his team in the second quarter when no one else hit anything and he scored 15 out of 19 Bucks points in the race. Again and again he worked his way to the curve or struck from the middle distance. He also dug into a backside putback, also hitting a three with 1:40 left, the Bucks’ fifth in the final quarter. He was tireless.
And that applied to his entire team. Throughout the match, Boston had significantly better odds from the field and mostly better finishes. But Milwaukee has been more consistent. The Bucks got 17 offensive rebounds, Portis alone got 7 of them. Some of these led directly to threes, such as the aforementioned Gianni’s three.
Marcus Smart becomes a tragic figure
Boston’s defense was very good, but it had this crucial flaw. Also because players in the fourth quarter did not run back several times because they were busy with the referees instead. “If we box out, we’ll win the fight,” Marcus Smart said correctly. Rebounds were not the Celtics’ only problem in the last quarter – the offensive lost all focus – but they broke their necks.
Smart himself experienced a terrible final phase. The point guard had actually shown an excellent match for over 47 minutes, within the last four minutes he had a block against Holiday and accepted an offensive error from Giannis. But then, within a minute, everything turned in the wrong direction.
Smart lost control of the drive, at the other end Holiday equalized with a three. Smart had their hands on the ball after Giannis’ missed free kick, but could not hold on to it – Portis gave his team the lead. Smart would even take the lead back Holiday blocked him and quickly secured the ball. He then stole the ball from him and also denied the Celtics the last chance to equalize.
Budenholzer: “Jrue is a winner”
Smart was not the only culprit in that defeat, despite the flaws. Soberly speaking, Holidays’ blocking in particular was simply sensational – especially given the enormous two-way burden that the 31-year-old had to bear that day and throughout the series.
“He’s a winner. Jrue is a winner. You can ask any player and every coach in this league,” Mike Budenholzer said after the fight over Holiday and his action. Holiday stole the ball, the Bucks stole this win in a game that actually seemed lost.
“We gave it away,” annoyed Brown, on the other hand. “Respect for Milwaukee. They play hard for 48 minutes. We ended up going away from what we are good at.” Ime Udoka agreed: “We played three and a half quarters better than them,” the Celtics coach said. “We missed a golden opportunity.”
Jrue Holiday: “This is how we live and die”
They have. Time will tell if they get over this. Milwaukee is vulnerable without Middleton, the champions really do not have the best opportunities on the wing at the moment. It still takes a lot to beat them.
They are mentally so strong, so experienced, that even a series in the second round with the intensity of the final will not disturb them. And also no 14 points in deficit in the fourth quarter in a foreign hall. “We stick together. That’s how we live and die,” Holiday said with a dose of pathos he well deserved after his block – perhaps the best action in the playoffs so far.
This team is the defending champion in the truest sense of the word. For the Bucks, it’s not over until it really is over. Giannis and the company not only have the heart of a champion – they have the heart of Nicky Santoro.
Celtics vs. Bucks: Series overview
|1||May 1||at 19||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||89: 101|
|2||May 4||1 o’clock||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||109: 86|
|3||May 7||21.30||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||103: 101|
|4||May 10||1:30||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||108: 116|
|5||May 12||1 o’clock||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||107: 110|
|6||May 14||1:30||Milwaukee Bucks||Boston Celtics||–|
|7 *||May 16||TBD||Boston Celtics||Milwaukee Bucks||–|