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Celtics 116, Bucks 108

How it happened: Celtics storm back against Bucks to win Game 4, 116-108, and tie up series

Referee Tony Brothers steps in between Giannis Antetokounmpo and Al Horford after the two appeared to exchange words following a second-half dunk by Antetokounmpo.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Celtics roared back to a resounding Game 4 win, beating the Bucks 116-108 in Milwaukee to tie up this Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Al Horford had a night to remember, scoring 30 points — his career playoff high — to key Boston to the win.

Jayson Tatum came up big down the stretch after a slow start. He finished with 30 points.

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo was clearly exhausted in the second half, but finished with 34 in the loss.

Boston had 48 points in the paint tonight. They had just 44 total over Games 1 and 2 in this series.


Grant Williams started in place of Robert Williams, who was unavailable due to left knee soreness — a residual effect from his meniscus surgery in March.

Game 5 will be Wednesday at TD Garden. Read on to see how the game unfolded.

Box score | Play-by-play

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Adam Himmelsbach’s observations — 10:14 p.m.

With Jaylen Brown on the bench with his fifth foul, Jayson Tatum struggling to get untracked, Robert Williams out because of a sore knee, and the Bucks taking a 7-point lead to the fourth quarter, the Celtics were in a bad spot.

But Al Horford has seen too much to be rattled by such a situation. So in Game 4 on Monday night, the 35-year-old crafted a performance for the ages, erupting for a playoff career-high 30 points along with eight rebounds, to lead the Celtics to a 116-108 comeback win that knotted this best-of-seven conference semifinal at 2-2.

Tatum seemed to find his groove at the end and helped finish off the Bucks with his 30-point night.

Read the rest of Himmelsbach’s observations here.

Celtics win — 10:06 p.m.

What a resounding victory.


Al Horford had a night to remember, scoring 30 points — his career playoff high — to key Boston to the win.

Celtics up by 10 with a minute to go — 10:04 p.m.

Game 5 will be Wednesday night at TD Garden.

3:05 to go, with Celtics up 7 — 9:57 p.m.

The Celtics are pulling away in the fourth quarter, jumping out to lead seven-point lead after making 13 of their 15 shot attempts. If Boston can pull off the victory, the Bucks will rue the loss as a wasted opportunity.

Timeout: Celtics 106, Bucks 96 — 9:54 p.m.

The Celtics are outscoring the Bucks, 33-16, in the fourth en route to a 10-point lead with 3:24 to play.

Giannis back in, Connaughton looks injured — 9:53 p.m.

That break was quite short. Celtics lead, 102-96, with 4:06 to go.

Giannis on the bench with under 5 minutes to play — 9:52 p.m.

With the Bucks trailing by 4 and fewer than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer decides to give Giannis Antetokounmpo a rest. Antetokounmpo looked gassed on Milwaukee’s most recent possessions.

Watch: Al Horford is on fire 🔥 — 9:49 p.m.

With 30 points, Al Horford has a new postseason career-high. Horford has been absolutely critical this game, making 11 of his 14 field goal attempts, including five timely three-pointers. He’s the reason why the Celtics are in this game.

Al Horford’s previous playoff high? It was 26 points, which he scored three times: In 2013 with the Hawks, and twice in the Celtics’ 2018 playoff run.

Jaylen Brown is back in the game — 9:47 p.m.

With 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter, Celtics coach Ime Udoka decided to put Jaylen Brown back in with his five fouls.

Holy cow, Al Horford — 9:46 p.m.

Horford sinks a baseline 3, and that’s 27 points for the vet — a career playoff high.

Scoring update: 6:00, Q4 — 9:45 p.m.

The Bucks are up, 94-92, after Giannis missed his and-one.


Watch: Al Horford caps off a big run for Boston — 9:42 p.m.

24 points for Big Al, and the Celtics are up 3 — 9:39 p.m.

35-year-old Al Horford is having a heck of a game.

Celtics 88, Bucks 85. 8:01 left in the game.

Perk doesn’t love that call — 9:36 p.m.

Watch: Al Horford hammers home massive dunk to tie it up — 9:33 p.m.

Horford was called for a technical after throwing an elbow to the face of Giannis.

Giannis was also called for a foul on Horford.

Smart makes it a two-point game — 9:31 p.m.

It’s Bucks 80, Celtics 78 with 10:03 to play.

Two big questions for the fourth quarter — 9:29 p.m.

Two big questions headed into the fourth quarter, with the Celtics down 7:

▪ When will Ime Udoka put Jaylen Brown (five fouls) back in the game?

▪ Will Giannis Antetokounmpo play all 12 minutes?

The Celtics have actually fared better than usual in the non-Giannis minutes tonight.

A tough third quarter for Celtics, Boston trails by 7 — 9:25 p.m.

The Celtics are down, 80-73, after a disappointing third quarter.

They came out of the half down by one. Now, they’re down by 7 after allowing 13 points to Giannis Antetokounmpo in the third.

Wow! Huge turn of events for Bucks — 9:22 p.m.

Huge replay review with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter: The refs called a blocking foul on Jrue Holiday, who was defending a driving Jaylen Brown. But Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer challenged the call and, after review, the referees overturned the call. Instead of Holiday picking up his fourth personal foul, Brown picked up his fifth.

A break for Jayson Tatum? — 9:18 p.m.

Wesley Matthews picked up his fourth personal foul with 3:03 remaining in the third quarter. Matthews has been a huge factor in limiting Jayson Tatum, so perhaps Tatum will be able to take advantage of his absence.

The Celtics were a third-quarter team all season. Not tonight. — 9:17 p.m.

After a Giannis Antetokounmpo floater — bringing his third-quarter point total to 13 and Milwaukee’s lead to 11 — Celtics coach Ime Udoka had to call a timeout. The Celtics were the NBA’s best-performing team in the third quarter during the regular season, but they’ve lost that quarter the past two games and will lose another tonight if they don’t turn things around.


Timeout: Bucks 76, Celtics 62, 3:31 Q3 — 9:14 p.m.

Fiserv Forum crowd on its feet — 9:12 p.m.

The crowd at Fiserv Forum is on its feet, celebrating another foul call against the Celtics. This time it was a loose ball foul on Grant Williams, his fourth personal with 3:44 remaining in the third quarter. The Bucks have been taking advantage of being in the bonus by getting to the line, but Giannis Antetokounmpo has bailed the Celtics out by missing his free throws.

Four fouls for Grant Williams, and not a good look — 9:12 p.m.

Giannis has 13 third-quarter points 😬 — 9:09 p.m.

Nothing the Celtics throw at the Greek Freak seems to matter.

Bucks in the bonus for six-plus minutes — 9:06 p.m.

The Bucks will be in the bonus for the final 6:32 of the third quarter.

Analysis: These Celtics won’t go away — 9:03 p.m.

The Celtics won’t go away. They rallied back from a double-digit deficit in the first half and then, with the Bucks building a seven-lead to start the third quarter, they stayed within striking distance. After a Jayson Tatum three cut the gap to two, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer called a timeout in frustration. Tatum is up to 18 points on 6 of 12 shooting, including 2 of 7 from three. Some of his misses have been pretty open looks.

Scoring update: 7:00, Q3 — 9:01 p.m.

Bucks 63, Celtics 61.

Brown sits with four fouls — 8:58 p.m.

Jaylen Brown picked up his fourth foul with 9:03 remaining in the third quarter. The Bucks have been trying to get the switch where Brown ends up guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo. Clearly, it hasn’t gone particularly well for Brown.


Giannis gets T’d up for ... taunting?! — 8:54 p.m.

The refs hit Giannis Antetokounmpo with a technical foul for taunting after his ferocious dunk. Coach Mike Budenholzer jumped out onto the court to express his displeasure with the call. One writer’s opinion: Taunting should not be penalized in the NBA (or NFL).

Third quarter is underway — 8:50 p.m.

Here we go.

Grizzlies-Warriors update — 8:48 p.m.

Steve Kerr has entered the NBA’s health and safety protocols, and will not coach the Warriors tonight against the Grizzlies.

Ja Morant is not expected to play for Memphis after suffering a knee injury in Game 3.

Celtics won’t stop complaining ... but they need to stop — 8:42 p.m.

The Celtics don’t seem pleased with the officiating, especially with the fact that Wesley Matthews earned three free throws on a foul by Jaylen Brown. But they need to stop complaining every time a call doesn’t go their way. In Game 3, Ime Udoka yanked Grant Williams because he chose to bark at the referee instead of getting back on defense.

One number to know — 8:40 p.m.

One stat that stands out from the first half is Milwaukee’s 10 offensive rebounds.

They are only 3 of 9 on second-chance shots, so the damage could be worse, but the Celtics have had trouble keeping the Bucks off the glass. Robert Williams’s absence hurts in that regard.

Halftime stat check — 8:36 p.m.


Al Horford: 11 points, 1 assist, 4 rebounds

Jaylen Brown: 11 points, 1 assist, 2 rebounds, 1-for-3 from three

Jayson Tatum: 9 points, no assists, 7 rebounds, 1-for-6 from three


Giannis Antetokounmpo: 15 points, 2 assists, 11 rebounds

Pat Connaughton: 8 points, 4 assists, no rebounds

At the half: Bucks 48, Celtics 47 — 8:34 p.m.

Wesley Matthews was fouled with 21.4 seconds to play in the second quarter — a call that Ime Udoka was not happy with, and he let the refs know.

Matthews made all three foul shots.

On the ensuing possession, Giannis Antetokounmpo barreled into Grant Williams right before Williams was going to attempt the final shot of the quarter. Williams sunk both free throws.

Celtics can’t catch a break from three — 8:29 p.m.

They’re 6-for-20. Eek.

Celtics 43, Bucks 40, 1:27.

TV timeout: Celtics 43, Bucks 40 — 8:25 p.m.

With 2:37 left in the first half, there’s a jump ball.

Scoring update: 4:00, Q2 — 8:19 p.m.

The Celtics and Bucks are mired in a defensive battle. They’re tied up, 38-38.

Al Horford is the Celtics’ MVP so far — 8:15 p.m.

Al Horford is by far Boston’s MVP, with 11 points on 4 of 4 shooting, including 2 of 2 from three.

His latest three gives the Celtics their first lead of the game, 34-33, with 6:35 remaining in the second quarter, forcing Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout.

Celtics take their first lead — 8:13 p.m.

Al Horford has 11 points in the first half, his latest bucket giving the Celtics a 34-33 edge with 6:35 left in the second quarter.

Scoring update, 8:00 Q2 — 8:11 p.m.

The Celtics and Bucks are tied, 31-31. Boston is finally showing some elevated ball movement.

A tough showing for Daniel Theis so far — 8:04 p.m.

Center Daniel Theis is going to get more playing time with no Robert Williams, but there’s no reason he should have the number of field goal attempts he has (4, including two from three). Theis has missed all his shots, including one in which he got stuffed at the rim by Brook Lopez.

Al Horford is the lone bright spot — 8:02 p.m.

The Celtics finished the first quarter down by seven, though the deficit could be much larger. Al Horford is once again buoying Boston, as he is perfect from the field (3 of 3 for 7 points) and has helped contain Giannis Antetokounmpo defensively.

End of first quarter: Bucks 25, Celtics 18 — 8:00 p.m.

Milwaukee has led from the start.

‘How do they come out like this?’ — 7:55 p.m.

Ime Udoka called a timeout following an easy Grayson Allen layup that gave the Bucks a 21-11 lead with 3:19 remaining in the first quarter. Dan Shaughnessy, sitting next to me in the press box, rightfully asked, “How do they [the Celtics] come out like this?” Their start certainly has not been inspiring.

Udoka calls a time out — 7:51 p.m.

It’s a rough start in Milwaukee.

Bucks 21, Celtics 11.

Scoring update, 4:00 Q1 — 7:50 p.m.

Bucks 19, Celtics 11.

Daniel Theis is getting his first minutes of the game.

Watch: Will this Tatum dunk get the Celtics going? — 7:48 p.m.

Maybe this dunk will get Jayson Tatum going:

Celtics are ice cold from three — 7:46 p.m.

The cold three-point shooting for both the Celtics and Bucks has continued into Game 4. Halfway through the first quarter, neither team has made a basket from behind the arc (combined 0 of 7). In Game 3, the teams shot below 30 percent from range.

TV timeout: Bucks 10, Celtics 6 — 7:44 p.m.

With 6:27 left to go in the first quarter.

Scoring update, 8:00 Q1 — 7:41 p.m.

The Bucks are up, 8-2. The Celtics are 0-for-4 from three.

Jaylen Brown takes one to the face from Giannis — 7:36 p.m.

He appears to be in a lot of pain. Officials reviewed the play and called a personal foul on Brown.

It’s time for tip-off — 7:30 p.m.

Let’s get into it.

Tonight’s starting lineups — 7:15 p.m.

Bucks starters: Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Wesley Matthews, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez.

Inactive: Serge Ibaka (Non-COVID illness), Khris Middleton (Left knee MCL sprain)

The Bucks are going with the same starting lineup as Game 3, continuing with Allen over Bobby Portis. Allen struggled in Game 3 — 0 points on 0 of 3 shooting, 4 fouls — but Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer expressed confidence in him ahead of tip-off.

Celtics starters: Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams, Al Horford.

Inactive: Sam Hauser (Right shoulder instability episode), Robert Williams III (Left knee soreness)

Udoka finishes fourth in Coach of the Year voting — 7:10 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

Celtics first-year coach Ime Udoka finished fourth in the NBA’s Coach of the Year voting, the league announced Monday.

Udoka received one first-place vote, five second-place votes, and 26 third-place votes, giving him 46 total points from the 100-member media panel. He finished behind Suns coach Monty Williams (458 points), Grizzlies coach Taylor Jenkins (270) and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra (72).

It’s a notable achievement for Udoka, whose Celtics were toiling below .500 in January before they vaulted to the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with a stunning turnaround. This is Udoka’s first year as a head coach at any level.

Daniel Theis will get more minutes — 7:00 p.m.

By Adam Himmelsbach

With Robert Williams out, Daniel Theis was expected to play a larger role off the bench. Theis started all nine games Williams missed following knee surgery and erupted for 22 points in Boston’s April 7 loss to the Bucks.

“He held it down while [Williams] was out and specifically can go back to the Milwaukee game, one of the last games of the year, he played extremely well here,” Udoka said. “So he’s a guy that we — I wouldn’t say insurance policy, but a guy we’re very comfortable plugging in in situations. He’s obviously different than Rob but shouldn’t miss a beat with some of the things he does on both ends.”

Tonight’s officiating crew — 6:45 p.m.

Tonight’s officiating crew will be crew chief James Capers, referee Tony Brothers, and umpire Jaclyn Goble. Since 2015, the Celtics are 2-10 in playoff games officiated by Brothers.

Grant Williams will start — 6:30 p.m.

Grant Williams will start in place of Robert Williams, who is unavailable because of soreness in his left knee. Coach Ime Udoka said Robert experienced a flare-up of soreness more intense than the usual amount expected after a game. According to Udoka, there was no specific incident that triggered the soreness.

Why Robert Williams is sitting out Game 4 — 6:15 p.m.

In his pregame availability, Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Williams’s soreness was to be expected, Gary Washburn reports.

Williams tried to workout prior to tipoff but couldn’t move like the team wanted.

“I mean, it’s not unexpected to have this after a surgery, but it’s been soreness at times and just a little more irritated today than usual,” Udoka said. “So they took a look at it, tried to warm him up. But in between other games, he’s had some natural soreness and just was a little worse today.”

Robert Williams is out — 6:07 p.m.

The Celtics just announced that Robert Williams will not be available for Game 4.

Williams is dealing with soreness in his left knee — the same knee in which he tore his meniscus in late March.

Grant Williams is expected to start in Robert Williams’s place. It will be his first playoff start.

Don’t worry too much about that Game 3 loss. The Celtics showed they can take this series. — 6:00 p.m.

Grant Williams scored nine points in Game 3.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

By Christopher L. Gasper

There is always eternal sunshine of the Celtics mind when it comes to discussing and assessing the team, more so than any other local sports outfit. I’m here to tell you this time it’s warranted.

The Celtics’ 103-101 road loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals represents a Rorschach test. What do you see? A team that went down 2-1 in a series it has never led after laying an egg at Fiserv Forum and let Giannis Antetokounmpo get loose for 42 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists? Or do you see that a team that literally lost by a fingertip and a fraction of a second on a night its best player belonged on the side of a milk carton and it registered its worst quarter of the playoffs?

Look to the latter and a truth about this series revealed as clearly as the fact that Al Horford’s game-tying tip was stuck to his hand when the horn sounded. There is only one team that can win this series. It’s Boston. Milwaukee can’t win it. The Celtics can only lose it.

Read the rest of the column here.

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Nicole Yang can be reached at her @nicolecyang. Katie McInerney can be reached at Follow her @k8tmac.