Virtually nothing went right for the Boston Celtics, right from the opening tip, in a 116-92 loss the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night.
Each team's first possession of the game was a microcosm for how things would play out for the duration, leading to the Bucks pulling within a game of the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference Quarterfinals series at 2-1.
Jaylen Brown airmailed a 3 as the shot clock ran out for the Boston, which was followed by an emphatic dunk by Giannis Antetokounmpo on an alley-oop feed from Khris Middleton.
Though the Celtics seemingly survived the initial gauntlet, the game was tied no later than 6-6. The opening quarter was a nightmare for Boston, lowlighted by a 2-for-18 shooting performance from the field coupled with nine turnovers. It was 27-12 after 12 minutes in favor of the Bucks.
Adjustments never came for the Celtics, from their starters nor the bench. After having three players score in double figures in a reserve role in Game 2, Boston had only 10 points combined from its bench players entering the fourth quarter.
While Antetokounmpo and Middleton continued to lead Milwaukee's attack on the offensive end, a pair of players yet to leave a mark on the series made up for lost time on Friday night. Former lottery picks Thon Maker (No. 10 overall, 2016) and Jabari Parker (No. 2 overall, 2014) shined off the bench for the Bucks, each player demonstrating why Milwaukee invested in them in the first place.
Maker, who had played just 1 minute through the first two games of the series, proved to be a matchup nightmare on both ends of the floor. The 7-foot-1 center, who shot less than 30 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season, naturally sank 3 of his 4 attempts from deep. Maker provided elite rim protection for the Bucks as well, with five blocks. He finished with 14 points in all.
Parker's future with Milwaukee has been a hot topic of late, his playing time fluctuating as he works his way back from a second torn ACL in his left knee since his NBA career began. One game may not change his outlook with the Bucks, but Parker's playoff career-high of 17 points (7-for-12 shooting) was more than the Celtics could handle.
Antetokounmpo failed to reach 30 points for the first time in the series, but his 19 points came on an efficient 8-for-13 shooting to go along with six assists and five rebounds. Middleton led all scorers 23 points.
Al Horford led Boston with 16 points on 7-for-13 shooting. Jayson Tatum (14) and Jaylen Brown (13) also reached double figures, while Greg Monroe wound up with 15 for the Celtics off the bench – seven of which came in the fourth quarter and the game essentially over.
Terry Rozier, who didn't commit a single turnover during the first two games of the series in Boston, had five in Game 3. He did still manage nine assists, along with nine points (2-for-7 shooting).
As a team, the Celtics committed 16 turnovers, the Bucks only nine. Boston trailed 58-35 at the half and 85-67 after the third.
Game 4 is on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Milwaukee. Game 5 will be back in Boston on Tuesday night, with the time to be announced.