Jayson Tatum rose to the occasion on Friday night.
With the Celtics’ season on the line, the 24-year-old star put the team on his back, scoring 46 points en route to a 108-95 Game 6 win at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.
The victory guarantees the Celtics will play one more — Game 7, on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at TD Garden. The winner advances to face the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals; the loser goes home.
Giannis Antetokounmpo certainly did his part to try to end this series in six games, scoring 44 points and adding 20 rebounds. But he got little help from the bench (with the exception of St. John’s Prep product Pat Connaughton, who scored 14) and it wasn’t enough.
The Celtics were on fire to begin the game, firing up threes and making most of them. They finished 17-of-43 from the arc.
Jaylen Brown scored 22 points and Marcus Smart scored 21, shooting 5-of-9 from three.
Sign up for Court Sense | More Celtics stories
Tatum makes Celtics history — 10:32 p.m.
Jayson Tatum's 46 points are tied with Paul Pierce for the 2nd-most for a @celtics player when facing elimination.— NBA (@NBA) May 14, 2022
Only Sam Jones (47 on April 10, 1963) scored more. pic.twitter.com/Bw10lXGHtg
What Ime Udoka said after the game — 10:30 p.m.
Udoka said there was “never any doubt or hangovers” from the disappointing collapse in Game 5. He said the Celtics “put it to bed the next day” and now, they’re “looking forward to getting back to the Garden.”
“I don’t know if playing on the road affects us as much as other teams.”
Adam Himmelsbach’s observations — 10:25 p.m.
After doing what they needed over the first three quarters of this elimination game against the Bucks, the Celtics found themselves in a familiar spot.
They were up by 14 points early in the fourth, in position to finish off Milwaukee and move on to the next one. But one game after allowing a similar lead to disappear in a similar spot, Boston started to let it happen again.
The Bucks pulled within 4, Fiserv Forum was on fire, and someone needed to do something about it or else the Celtics’ season would come to an end.
But then Jayson Tatum stepped in and stepped up, crafting one of the signature moments of his young career and helping finish off the Bucks, 108-95, to force Game 7 Sunday at TD Garden.
Tatum scored 16 of his 46 points in the fourth, helping more than offset another dominant performance by Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo, who finished with 44 points and 20 rebounds.
The Bucks, who trailed by as many as 18 points, pulled within 85-81 on an Antetokounmpo 3-pointer from the top of the key with 8:43 left.
But Tatum would not let his team collapse, not this time.
Read the rest of Himmelsbach’s observations here.
Game 7 is on at TD Garden — 10:17 p.m.
Game 7 will tip on Sunday at 3:30 p.m.
On Wednesday — before the Celtics collapsed — the place was louder than it has been all postseason.
Celtics win — 10:14 p.m.
Boston 108, Milwaukee 95
Bucks are bringing in the subs — 10:11 p.m.
Giannis and Co. are sitting. Thanasis Antetokounmpo is in.
The air is out of the crowd — 10:10 p.m.
Safe to say Milwaukee thought it would be celebrating tonight.
A wow moment for Tatum — 10:08 p.m.
Tatum drives it to the basket, tries to slam it down, but a Buck gets a piece of it. Tatum sinks the shot and the free throw.
TATUM AND-1.— NBA (@NBA) May 14, 2022
HE'S GOT 45 🤯 pic.twitter.com/SevB4N6UcI
Giannis making history — 10:07 p.m.
Antetokounmpo has 44 points and 20 rebounds. It’s the first 40-20 game in the NBA playoffs since Shaq did it in 2001.
Scoring update: 3:25, fourth quarter — 10:02 p.m.
It’s still 100-87, Celtics.
The Celtics’ lead climbs to 13 — 10:00 p.m.
It’s Celtics 100, Bucks 87, with 4:11 to play.
Bobby Portis just picked up his third foul.
Paul Pierce chimes in — 9:58 p.m.
This game give me that pp lbj game 7 vibe— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) May 14, 2022
Scoring update: 5:23, fourth quarter — 9:55 p.m.
Celtics 95, Bucks 87
Jayson Tatum is carrying the Celtics tonight, with 41 points — including seven threes.
Connaughton is stepping up for the Bucks — 9:54 p.m.
That’s back-to-back reverse layups by the St. John’s Prep product. He’s got 14 points, giving the Bucks a big boost off the bench.
Tatum has eight straight points — 9:53 p.m.
Back-to-back threes from Jayson Tatum have helped the Celtics maintain their lead. Fiserv Forum started rocking after the Bucks pulled within four thanks to some sloppy play from the Celtics, but Tatum has stepped up big time with 8 consecutive points.
Tatum has 36 points — 9:51 p.m.
Another clutch three for Jayson.
It’s 90-83, Celtics.
Giannis sinks a three, and it’s a 4-point game — 9:49 p.m.
Giannis has 40, and it’s 85-81 Celtics after Tatum hit a free throw.
The Celtics haven’t scored in nearly 3 minutes — 9:48 p.m.
Not since a Jaylen bucket at 11:25.
Bucks are within six — 9:47 p.m.
Feeling some déjà vu?
The Celtics had an 18-point lead in the third.
Call is reversed, a huge swing for Milwaukee — 9:46 p.m.
Huge swing: Giannis Antetokounmpo was initially whistled for his fifth personal foul on a drive to the basket with 10:16 remaining and the Bucks down 11, but coach Mike Budenholzer successfully challenged the call. Instead, Grant Williams picked up his third.
Antetokounmpo knocked down both of his free throws to bring the Bucks within nine.
Five fouls for Giannis? Bud is challenging. — 9:42 p.m.
Budenholzer and the Bucks will hope the officials reverse the offensive foul call on Giannis, which comes at 10:16 in the fourth quarter.
If it’s reversed, it will be a fourth on Grant Williams.
This is once again Boston’s game to blow — 9:39 p.m.
This game is once again Boston’s to blow. The Celtics head into the fourth quarter up by 13, but they blew a 14-point, fourth-quarter lead in Game 5, so they’ll need to keep their foot on the gas.
End of third quarter: Celtics 83, Bucks 70 — 9:35 p.m.
Tatum has 31 points.
And-1 for Tatum — 9:32 p.m.
Tatum draws the foul on George Hill in the paint. He’s got 27. And that’s two fouls for Hill.
Celtics 80, Bucks 66 after the free throw.
JAYSON TATUM AND-1 💪 pic.twitter.com/izeoB966lY— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 14, 2022
Are the Celtics cooling off? — 9:27 p.m.
They have missed their last four three-point attempts.
Scoring update: 5:00, third quarter — 9:25 p.m.
Celtics 70, Bucks 56
What’s with Grant Williams? — 9:22 p.m.
Man, Grant is suddenly lost on offense.— Chad Finn (@GlobeChadFinn) May 14, 2022
Giannis has four fouls, but Bud has no choices — 9:19 p.m.
Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up his fourth personal foul with 7:54 remaining in the third, but coach Mike Budenholzer has no choice but to leave him on the floor because the Bucks are down by 18.
Not to speak too soon but ... — 9:18 p.m.
Hard to say the Celtics have a team on the ropes after last game, but they have the Bucks on the ropes.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 14, 2022
Tatum has 23 — 9:16 p.m.
🚨 JT 🚨 pic.twitter.com/iRtGjbIgX1— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 14, 2022
Horford scores his first points of the night — 9:10 p.m.
And the Celtics are up 56-45, their largest lead of the game.
Wait! Tatum just sunk another 3. It’s 59-45.
Good news for Himmelsbach — 9:08 p.m.
As Adam points out, the shot clocks above the backboard are back for the second half.
What we’re watching in the second half — 9:02 p.m.
Things to watch in the second half:
1. Obviously, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s three fouls. If he picks up his fourth personal early in the third, coach Mike Budenholzer will have a hard decision to make.
2. Jayson Tatum’s minutes. Tatum played a game-high 22:30 in the first half, which puts him on pace for 45 minutes. That would be a series-high for him.
3. The other Bucks. Milwaukee was able to come back in Game 5 because of a collective effort. The team will need that same level of contributions if they hope to come back in this one, too.
At the half: Celtics 53, Bucks 43 — 8:52 p.m.
The Celtics head into the half up by 10. After looking flat and uninspiring to start both Games 3 and 4 on the road, Boston has started this game with the right level of urgency.
Giannis picks up his third foul — 8:51 p.m.
Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up his third personal foul with 22.1 seconds remaining in the second quarter. A huge thing to watch in the third quarter will be whether he picks up his fourth.
Giannis has 21. The rest of the Bucks? — 8:48 p.m.
Jrue Holiday has added 12, but they’ve gotten just eight points from other players.
Meanwhile, Derrick White has scored 7 points off the bench for Boston.
The Celtics have hit 11 threes so far — 8:45 p.m.
While attempting 23 of them.
And Milwaukee has only hit 3.
Scoring update: 3:12, second quarter — 8:44 p.m.
It’s still Celtics 42, Bucks 39.
Scoring update: 4:45, second quarter — 8:38 p.m.
Celtics 42, Bucks 39.
Challenge unsuccessful, and a big swing — 8:34 p.m.
Big swing: Giannis Antetokounmpo drove to the basket and Marcus Smart tried to draw a charge but his left foot ended up on the line of the restricted area. Officials whistled a blocking foul on Smart, giving Antetokounmpo an and-1 and the chance to bring the Bucks within 4. Ime Udoka unsuccessfully challenged the call. If the challenge were successful, then Antetokounmpo would have picked up his third foul with 7:02 remaining in the second quarter.
Udoka is challenging the foul call on Smart — 8:32 p.m.
He was called for a foul while defending a Giannis drive in the paint.
Could the Celtics make history? — 8:30 p.m.
Stat watch: The most three-point attempts ever in a playoff game is 58 by the Houston Rockets in 2020. The most made three-pointers ever in a playoff game is 25 by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. Midway through the second quarter, the Celtics are shooting 10 of 20.
Big play here — 8:29 p.m.
Big play there. Bucks throw it away and Giannis gives up a foul to stop the fast break. His second. I'd argue his foul situation is much more important than a layup. And might be a clear path.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 14, 2022
Scoring update: 8:30, second quarter — 8:26 p.m.
Celtics 40, Bucks 30.
Tatum can’t miss 🔥 — 8:21 p.m.
He’s 4-for-4 from three, and has 14 points.
Celtics 35, Bucks 30.
Tatum, Smart and Jaylen a combined 10 for 13 from three. Picked the right time to get hot.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 14, 2022
What Udoka said at the break — 8:18 p.m.
“We’re assisting well, we want to get more paint touches but they’re really crowding the paint.”
The Celtics are knocking down 3s. But can they keep it up? — 8:17 p.m.
The large majority of Boston’s shot attempts in the first quarter (71.4 percent) came from behind the arc. The Celtics are knocking the threes down at an impressive clip (53.3 percent), though I’m curious to see how sustainable that rate is. The good news is that 7 of Boston’s 10 field goals were assisted, which means the team is moving the ball.
End, 1st quarter: Celtics 28, Bucks 26 — 8:14 p.m.
The Celtics are 8-for-15 from 3.
That’s 17 first-quarter points from Giannis — 8:13 p.m.
He has 17 of the Bucks’ 26 points.
OK, that is impressive 🍻 — 8:12 p.m.
Packers offensive tackle David Bakhtiari is courtside, next to tight end Robert Tonyan. Bakhtiari chugged two beers, with absolutely no spillage, in about 20 seconds.
Beer Bakhtiari. 🍻@DavidBakhtiari x @Packers pic.twitter.com/5JX7CQ9fPq— Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) May 14, 2022
The cons when it comes to coaches challenges — 8:11 p.m.
Marcus Smart tripped on a drive to the rim but was bailed out by a poor call by the officials, who decided to whistle a foul on Jrue Holiday instead. It wouldn’t make sense for Mike Budenholzer to challenge the call because it’s still the first quarter and only Holiday’s first personal. I wonder if the NBA will eventually adjust their challenge system so that coaches can keep their challenge if they are correct.
Scoring update: 2:45, first quarter — 8:07 p.m.
Bucks 24, Celtics 20
Giannis can’t miss — 8:04 p.m.
It took until 4:40 remaining in the first quarter for Giannis Antetokounmpo to miss his first shot. He started the game 4 of 4 from the field, including a three-pointer, and 6 of 6 from the free-throw line.
The Bucks have their first lead — 8:03 p.m.
It’s 20-17 Milwaukee.
Fans at Fiserv are feeling it — 8:00 p.m.
The fans at Fiserv Forum can definitely sense what’s at stake tonight, cheering much louder than they were in Games 3 and 4. Giannis Antetokounmpo is certainly feeling it, too, flexing after he powered his way to the rim for a layup that forced Ime Udoka to call a timeout.
Scoring update: 7:00, first quarter — 7:58 p.m.
Celtics 15, Bucks 10
A second foul on Grant, and White is in the game — 7:57 p.m.
Grant Williams picked up his second personal foul with 7:45 remaining in the first quarter, so coach Ime Udoka subbed him out for Derrick White. White has been a reliable rotation player on both ends of the floor for the Celtics this series.
Make it five — 7:56 p.m.
Through the first four minutes of the game, the Celtics have only scored on three-pointers. The team has come out firing, making 5 of their 8 attempts from behind the arc.
Six shots, six threes — 7:54 p.m.
The Celtics are reliant on the three early in this game. But they’ve only made three of those six three-point attempts.
There’s an issue with the shot clocks. Will it matter? — 7:53 p.m.
The shot clocks that are typically above the backboard aren’t working, so the shot clock is on the ground in the corner of the court. I’d be curious to see how this change impacts the players, as they now have to look down and to the side to know how much time is left.
Giannis has already drawn two fouls — 7:50 p.m.
Giannis needed 95 seconds to lower his head and pick up fouls on both Horford and Grant.— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) May 13, 2022
And we’re off — 7:47 p.m.
Follow along with us.
The vibe at Fiserv Forum — 7:42 p.m.
It’s probably only a matter of time before Fiserv Forum starts a “Bucks in six!” chant. The crowd received a pre-game message from former Buck Brandon Jennings, who coined the term during the 2012-13 playoffs.
What Marcus Smart said before the game — 7:34 p.m.
“Desperate. We gotta play desperate.”
What’s your prediction? — 7:25 p.m.
Tell us in the comments.
Starting lineups — 7:20 p.m.
Celtics: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Grant Williams, Al Horford
Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez, Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Wesley Matthews
Eastern Conference Finals schedule set — 7:05 p.m.
By Christopher Price
With Miami’s win over Philadelphia on Thursday night, the Heat will advance to take on either Boston or Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference Finals. Here’s the schedule for the best-of-seven series.
Game 1: Tue., May 17 — MIL/BOS at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 2: Thu., May 19 — MIL/BOS at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 3: Sat., May 21 — Miami at MIL/BOS, 8:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 4: Mon., May 23 — Miami at MIL/BOS, 8:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5: Wed., May 25 — BOS/MIL at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 6: Fri., May 27 — Miami at BOS/MIL, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: Sun., May 29 — BOS/MIL at Miami, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
(* if necessary)
This unit is outscoring the Bucks. Can it continue tonight? — 6:50 p.m.
By Adam Himmelsbach
The Celtics have had success in this series with a smaller lineup that features Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford. The unit entered Friday outscoring the Bucks by 31.5 points per 100 possessions in this series.
Milwaukee also had great success on the offensive glass in Game 5, and this unit could leave the Celtics vulnerable in that area in critical points, but Udoka said the benefits elsewhere have outweighed that concern so far.
“I think offensively, it’s been really good for us, and the numbers show that,” he said. “Obviously that was a huge emphasis in Game 4 that got us back in it was that lineup, spreading out the floor and giving them different looks. And you could say offensive rebounding hurts you because of the small lineups, but we do a lot of switching at times anyway, whether we are big or small. Sometimes we do have cross matches, and that’s when we have to come back in and gang rebound, understanding that’s one of their main things we can do is crash the glass extremely well.”
What actually happened on that final play on Wednesday? — 6:35 p.m.
By Adam Himmelsbach
Coach Ime Udoka said they were hoping to get the ball to Jayson Tatum so he could attack a mismatch, most likely a switch that left him guarded by Bobby Portis or Pat Connaughton.
But Al Horford appeared to be late in setting a screen for Tatum on the weak side, and with Boston out of timeouts, Marcus Smart was forced to improvise. He ran toward the ball, caught the inbounds pass from Derrick White, and actually got a step on Connaughton as he slashed toward the rim. He just never saw Jrue Holiday swoop in and swallow up the attempt before pegging it off Smart and out of bounds. Yes, there was time for Smart to pull the ball back out and get it to Tatum somehow, but he made the right call looking to capitalize on the brief opening. Afterward, Smart was looking toward the other side of the court, confused and frustrated, and no one was looking at Smart that way.
Read the rest of Himmelsbach’s thoughts ahead of this series here.
Referee update: Scott Foster is out — 6:20 p.m.
There’s been an officiating change.
Scott Foster is out with a non-COVID illness.
He will be replaced by Nick Buchert.
Here’s the full rundown:
Scott Foster (non-Covid related illness) is not available to officiate tonight’s game between the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks.— NBA Official (@NBAOfficial) May 13, 2022
Eric Lewis (Crew Chief), Ben Taylor (Referee), Tre Maddox (Umpire) and Nick Buchert (Alternate) will be the officiating crew for the game.
Robert Williams is out — 6:03 p.m.
The Celtics’ big man is out for the third straight game.
“We’re looking out for his health first and foremost,” Ime Udoka said before the game. “The pain is still there and we’re not going to put him out there until he’s 100 percent.”
Williams is still day-to-day after surgery to repair a meniscus tear in late March.
Ime Udoka on Robert Williams: "The pain is still there and we're not going to put him out there until he's 100%" pic.twitter.com/XJSVrnJ8m9— Celtics on NBC Sports Boston (@NBCSCeltics) May 13, 2022
Sign up for Court Sense — 5:55 p.m.
Did you know we have a newsletter for Celtics fans?
Court Sense normally arrives in your inbox twice a week. But during the playoffs, we send it out the morning of and the morning after each game.
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang. Katie McInerney can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @k8tmac.