The Milwaukee Bucks were able to withstand questionable officiating, questionable offensive decisions, and a questionable overall fourth quarter approach in surviving their Game 3 matchup with the Boston Celtics Saturday afternoon at Fiserv Forum, 103-101.
Leading 80-67 after three quarters, Milwaukee had several empty offensive possessions to help allow to Boston slowly creep back in the ballgame, tying, and taking the lead on a pair of Jaylen Brown free throws with 1:49 left.
After trading empty possessions, Milwaukee re-took the lead at 101-100 after a Giannis Antetokounmpo finger roll lay-in with 44.3 seconds left. After Brown’s missed layup, Jrue Holiday’s 12-foot jumper seemed to hang on the rim for an eternity before finally finding the bottom of the net, giving Milwaukee a three-point lead with just 11.2 seconds remaining.
Boston, needing a three-pointer to tie the game, gave the ball to Marcus Smart on the perimeter. Smart was then wrapped up by Holiday to send him to the free throw line. Much to Smart’s distress and contra to his pleas to the officials, he was judged to not be in the act of shooting and therefore not entitled to three free throw attempts.
Smart calmly made the first, making it a two-point game at 103-101 with 4.6 seconds remaining. Intentionally missing the second free throw to put the ball in play on the Boston end afforded the Celtics repeated chances, with rebound put ins attempted (and missed) by Smart and Robert Williams III. Al Horford’s desperation tip-in was a fraction of a second after the clock hit zero, preserving the win for Milwaukee.
"I had a pretty good view and I thought it was close, you know?" Lopez said of Horford’s shot that went in, but just a split-second too late. "I was right there and I saw Al tip it and then I saw the little red outline go off on the backboard, so it was very close.”
Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 42 points and pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds. Holiday chipped in 25 points on 11-30 shooting. Brown led Boston with 27 points; Horford chipped in 22 on 9-16 from the field.
“It felt like we didn’t score probably on a couple possessions," Budenholzer told reporters after the game in regard to Boston’s late rally. "When it gets fourth quarter and you get a clean look, it’d be great to make some of those.
“Credit to Boston.”
The Bucks now take a 2-1 series lead into Monday’s game four.