Friday night pitted the Celtics against the Bucks, but often times, it looked more like Jayson Tatum vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The two traded bucket after bucket and both finished with 40+, but it was Tatum, who outdueled the two-time NBA MVP to keep Boston’s season alive. The Celtics defeated the Bucks, 108-95, in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with a chance to advance at home in Game 7 Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on ABC.
Coming into Friday night, Tatum had only scored 40+ points in a playoff game twice in his career, last doing it against Brooklyn last postseason when he scored 50 and 40 in back-to-back games. His performance against Milwaukee was every bit as impressive, at this one came on the road at Fiserv Forum.
Nearly 20,000 fans in attendance, including Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, were ready to celebrate but Tatum and co. had other plans. Tatum finished with 46 points on 17-of-32 from the field with nine rebounds and four assists, playing all but four minutes of the entire game.
In the fourth quarter with just over five minutes remaining, Milwaukee was pushing, having overcome a 14-point deficit early in the quarter to be within five.
Cue Tatum, and his seventh three-pointer of the night to flip momentum back to Boston.
Tatum’s three took the buzz out of the arena, but also seemed to deflate the Bucks. That meant that Antetokounmpo’s 44-point, 20-board was all for naught.
It was Antetokounmpo’s third 40-point+ game of the series, but unfortunately for Milwaukee, secondary scoring was hard to come by. Outside of Jrue Holiday and Pat Connaughton combining for 31 points, nobody else scored more than six.
In contrast, Tatum had two teammates, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart, who dropped 20+ points. Brown finished with 22 points on 7-of-16 from the field, while the defensive centric Smart chipped in with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, his most this postseason.
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