Celtics-Bucks takeaways: Tatum's heroics help C's force Game 7 originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
There will be a Game 7 at TD Garden on Sunday.
With their backs against the wall in Milwaukee, the Boston Celtics displayed the resiliency they've shown all season with a 108-95 win over the Bucks. Unlike their Game 6 loss, the C's were able to hold onto their double-digit fourth-quarter lead and finish the job.
Giannis Antetokounmpo did all he could to send the Celtics packing, but it wasn't enough. The two-time MVP finished with 44 points and 20 rebounds.
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Sunday's Game 7 is set to tip-off at 3:30 p.m. ET with Celtics Pregame Live starting at 2:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Boston.
Here are our takeaways from the C's thrilling Game 6 victory.
Celtics make it rain from 3
The 3 ball has been a blessing and a curse for the C's in this series. Fortunately for them, the shots were falling in the do-or-die showdown.
The Celtics opened Game 6 with eight straight 3-point attempts, converting on five of them. They took 15 shots from beyond the arc and attempted only six 2s in the first quarter.
There were times -- especially in the third quarter when Giannis Antetokounmpo got his fourth foul -- when Boston settled for 3s rather than attacking the basket. Those lulls in the offense allowed the Bucks back into the game, just as they did in Game 5. Eventually though, the Celtics regained their 3-point stroke and pulled away with the 13-point victory.
Boston finished 17-for-43 (39.5 percent) from 3-point range. Milwaukee was just 7-for-29 (24.1 percent). That was the difference-maker.
Jayson Tatum outduels Giannis
Jayson Tatum picked a good time to have his best game of the postseason. This was a career-defining night for the Celtics superstar.
Tatum contributed to Boston's 3-point barrage by shooting 4-for-4 from beyond the arc to start the game. He kept his foot on the gas pedal throughout the contest, finishing with a game-high 46 points on 17-of-32 shooting (7-for-15 from 3).
Tatum's 46 points marked his second-highest postseason total, behind only last year's 50-point outburst vs. the Brooklyn Nets. He scored the second-most points in franchise history while facing playoff elimination, trailing only Sam Jones' 47 points back in 1963. Paul Pierce also dropped 46 back in the 2002 NBA playoffs.
The Celtics needed this from Tatum, because Giannis Antetokounmpo was virtually unstoppable. The Bucks star had 44 points (14-30 FG) to go with a whopping 20 boards and six assists. He hit 14 of his 15 free-throw attempts and drilled two of his three 3-pointers. As outstanding of a performance it was, it still wasn't enough to carry Milwaukee into the Eastern Conference Finals.
Supporting casts make the difference
Milwaukee greatly missed Giannis' right-hand man Khris Middleton on Friday night. The Bucks' secondary players failed to hold up their end of the bargain, and it may end up costing them the series.
Jrue Holiday (17 points) was the only other Bucks starter to score in double figures. Pat Connaughton had 14 (6-8 FG) off the bench and hit a few clutch fourth-quarter shots, but Milwaukee will need much more from its supporting cast if it hopes to take Game 7. Grayson Allen was 1-for-7 from the floor (0-for-4 from 3) and a game-worst -29.
The Celtics didn't have a variety of scorers either. Tatum, Brown and Smart combined for 89 of the team's 108 points. That said, the supporting cast still greatly outplayed Milwaukee's.
Brown had a slow start but made up for it in the second half, finishing with 22 points on 7-of-16 shooting. He was 4-for-7 from long range.
Smart, like Tatum, was red-hot from 3 to begin the game. He drilled four of his first five shots from beyond the arc and had 14 points in the first quarter alone. He ended with 21 points and seven assists.
Derrick White once again was an unsung hero for the C's. His numbers don't jump off the page -- he had nine points on 3-of-9 shooting -- but his presence was felt throughout. Especially late in the second quarter when he hit a couple of big shots and drew a charge on Giannis.
White also had five boards and two assists off the bench while providing his usual stout defense.