Celtics vs. Bucks scores, takeaway: Jayson Tatum erupts for 46 points to lead Boston to crucial Race 6 victory

Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum performed for centuries Friday night in their 108-95 win as the two All-Stars each eclipsed the plateau by 40 points as the Boston Celtics forced into a match-do-or-die Game 7 against Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday afternoon at the TD Garden.

Tatum was fantastic for the Celtics on a night they needed him to be as he saved his best performance of the series for an away elimination match in what can easily be described as a hostile environment. Tatum knocked out Giannis by a record 46 points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists. While his effort was a defeat, Antetokounmpo was dominant finishing the match with 44 points at the end with an astonishing 20 rebounds and six assists.

Game 7 is scheduled for 3:30 PM ET on Sunday with ABC taking care of the national broadcast.

Here are three key points of the game:

1. Tatum offers one of the best performances of his career

Jayson Tatum hasn’t always given his best in this series, but the great players don’t let themselves be called bad games or bad traits. And Tatum has shown this season, and particularly on Friday night, that he is truly a great player. With the Celtics season at stake, he stepped forward and delivered one of the best performances of his career.

He had a hot start, knocking down two 3-pointers in the opening minutes to help the Celtics open an early lead, but his best and most important work came in the fourth quarter. Once leading by 18, the Celtics’ lead had been reduced to four with 8:42 to play, and Game 5 flashbacks were starting. Tatum made sure there wouldn’t be a second consecutive collapse.

First, an incredible fade jump to the baseline to beat the clock. Next, a 3-point pull-up right in George Hill’s face. Then he repeated the sequence with another fade and 3 more. Within three minutes he scored 10 consecutive points for the Celtics and brought the lead back to eight to give them some breathing room. The Bucks would never get close.

“Yeah, obviously he hit some greats during the match,” Celtics manager Ime Udoka said. “He did it and he also made the right play … Huge evening from him, we definitely needed it.”

Tatum scored 16 points in the fourth quarter alone and finished the night with 46, nine rebounds and four assists of 17 of 32 from the field. Tatum’s 46 points were the second in franchise history when he faced elimination and he joined Sam Jones as the only other Celtic to have more 45-point playoff games.

“That’s why he gets paid a lot of money,” said Marcus Smart. “He went into another mode right there. We saw it in his eyes of him. He was aggressive, he used to tell us ‘give me the ball.’ We gave him the ball, he asked us for it and that’s what we’re going to do. Like I said, that’s why a lot of money is paid. “

Jayson Tatum is still only 24 years old. He has a decade or more and maybe hundreds of playoff games ahead of him. It will be difficult for him to play a better one than he did on Friday night.

2. Giannis’s Herculean effort was not enough

The Bucks were already a top-tier team before Khris Middleton fell from a first-round MCL sprain against the Chicago Bulls, and without him the problem is even more pronounced. His absence forced Giannis Antetokounmpo to take on a somewhat ridiculous burden and attempt to carry the Bucks on his own.

At times in this series he has been able to do just that; the Bucks have won three games, after all. But even the best players can’t always do it alone, as Giannis and the Bucks discovered during Game 6.

Giannis was brilliant. He scored 17 points in the first quarter to keep the Bucks in the game despite the Celtics’ good start and kept attacking all night. There was little the Celtics could do to slow him down as he made his way to the paint for thunderous slams and trips to the free throw line.

“Giannis was great for them,” said Jaylen Brown. “He’s inexorable in approaching him. He’ll go on, he’ll keep attacking. His conditioning is great, he doesn’t seem to get tired like the others. He keeps coming.”

The Greek Freak finished with 44 points, 20 rebounds and six assists, shot 14/15 from the free throw line and became the first player since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001 to have a 40-20 in the playoffs.

Giannis had a staggering 45.2 percent utilization rate – his highest ever in a playoff game – and scored or assisted on 52 of the Bucks’ 95 points. It was a truly herculean effort, and it wasn’t enough. Jrue Holiday and Pat Connaughton were the only other players to score in double figures, but neither scored more than 17 points. The Bucks have missed Middleton throughout the series, but never more than Game 6.

3. The Celtics show determination after the failure of Game 5

The Celtics were supposed to come to Milwaukee to close the series on Friday night. Instead, they were the ones to face elimination after a late crash in Game 5 that saw them lose a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter at home. Recovering from a heartbreaking defeat like that takes a tremendous amount of determination, mental strength, and self-confidence.

Having avoided away elimination, it’s clear the Celtics have all of the above.

“I think how stinging it was, losing that game like that,” said Jayson Tatum. “Everyone had a bad taste in their mouths. Watching a movie, learning from it and the excitement – we were optimistic. We weren’t defeated, knowing that we still had the opportunity to save our season and come here and get a win. we believed, we really believed in each other. We believed in each other and tonight we saw it. “

The work is far from done. Beating the best player in the world for the second straight game to eliminate the reigning champions will not be easy, and on Sunday the Celtics will have to regroup for Game 7 at home. However, a performance like the one on Friday night speaks volumes about the character of this group.

“This was a great moment for all of us,” said Tatum. “For me and the team, just as we would have responded. Losing Game 5 would have strengthened or destroyed us. We showed a lot of strength and growth by coming here and taking an away win.”

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