Points weren’t easy to accumulate in between Boston-Milwaukee in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series.
Two quality defenses have stifled capable offenses that feature high-scoring stars.
After 48 minutes and four quarters of high-intensity playoff basketball, the Celtics pulled away from the Bucks down the stretch for a 116-108 victory. The series is tied at 2-2, and Game 5 is Wednesday in Boston (7 p.m. ET, TNT).
Boston outscored Milwaukee 43-28 in the fourth quarter.
Center Al Horford scored a playoff career-high 30 points and carried the Celtics offensively with help from Jayson Tatum (30 points), Jaylen Brown (18 points) and Marcus Smart (18 points, eight assists).
All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 13 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter, but it wasn’t enough as the Bucks shot 41.5% from the field and 33.3% on 3-pointers.
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A re-energized Al Horford
Horford, 35 years young, has been a positive revelation for the Celtics, who acquired him from Oklahoma City in a deal for Kemba Walker.
Horford is a key reason why this series is tied. He had 16 of his 30 points in the fourth quarter.
He was 11-for-14 from the field and 5-for-7 on 3-pointers with eight rebounds and three assists, and while it takes multiple defenders to limit Antetokounmpo, Horford has spent considerable time trying to make it tough on Antetokounmpo.
Another tough game for Giannis Antetokounmpo
Boston’s defense continues to make offense difficult for Antetokounmpo. He shot just 14-for-32 from the field, 0-for-4 on 3s and 6-for-11 on free throws, and had 18 rebounds and five assists.
Through four games, Antetokounmpo is shooting 43.9% from the field and 12.5% on 3s. While he had a big game with 42 points, his efficiency has suffered in the other three games.
Jayson Tatum delivers in the fourth
After shooting 4-for-19, including 0-for-6 on 3s, in Boston’s Game 3 loss, Celtics star Jayson Tatum scored 30 points in Game 4. It wasn’t a perfect night. He was 6-for-18 from the field through three quarters, but along with Horford, he had a big fourth quarter with 12 points.
And he contributed in other areas, too: 13 rebounds and five assists.
Khris Middleton’s absence hurts
Khris Middleton has not played in this series, and Milwaukee misses his two-way play. Jrue Holiday and Grayson Allen struggled offensively, and Boston’s perimeter players got the best of Milwaukee’s perimeter players. Middleton’s absence gives the Celtics more options offensively and defensively.