Tatum’s strong effort helps Celtics win 108-95 to force Game 7

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Jayson Tatum scored 46 points, outplayed Giannis Antetokounmpo and ensured there was no fourth-quarter comeback for the Milwaukee Bucks, and the Boston Celtics beat the defending champions 108-95 on Friday night to win. force a Game 7 in their Eastern Conference semifinal.

The third straight victory for an away team sets up a winner-takes-all game on Sunday in Boston. The victor heads to Miami to begin an East finals matchup with the top-seeded Heat on Tuesday.

Boston showed its courage by rallying two nights after blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead in a 110-107 home loss in Game 5. The Bucks tried to bounce back again after trailing by 14 points in the final period, but this time Tatum kept the Celtics on top and kept their season alive.

Antetokounmpo had 44 points, 20 rebounds and six assists. His 20 rebounds were one of the best of his career.

Jaylen Brown scored 22 and Marcus Smart had 21 for the Celtics, who capitalized on their superiority from 3-point range. The Celtics were 17-for-43 and the Bucks 7-for-27 from beyond the arc.

Antetokounmpo tried to lead the Bucks to an improbable second comeback in a row.

Boston led 84-70 in the first minute of the fourth quarter and led 84-73 when referees ruled that Grant Williams had been called for Antetokounmpo’s fifth foul. But the Bucks defied the call and it was overturned on replay, instead sending Antetokounmpo to the line with four fouls.

Antetokounmpo made both free throws to start an 8-0 run that put the Bucks back in the game. The Bucks cut the margin to 85-81 on Antetokounmpo’s 3-pointer with 8:42 left.

Tatum wouldn’t let the Bucks get any closer.

After that 8-0 Bucks run, Tatum scored the Celtics’ next 11 points. That included a jump shot that faded as the shot clock expired to bring the lead back to six plus a pair of 3-pointers.

Tatum and Brown each hit a 3-pointer during an 8-0 run that was capped by Smart’s jumper that made it 100-87 with 4:20 remaining.

Boston held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

MISSING PLAYERS

The Celtics played without forward/center Robert Williams for the third straight game.

Celtics coach Ime Udoka said Williams bruised the bone in his left knee colliding with Antetokounmpo in Game 3.

Milwaukee was without three-time All-Star forward Khris Middleton for the ninth straight game. Middleton sprained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee during Game 2 of the Bucks’ first-round series against the Chicago Bulls.

TIPS

Celtics: Tatum has scored at least 30 points in three straight games. … After going a combined 5-for-27 on 3-point attempts in Games 3-5, Tatum was 7-for-15 on Friday. … The Celtics were 10-for-17 from 3-point range in the first 14 1/2 minutes of the game.

Bucks: A moment of silence was held before the game to honor Hall of Famer Bob Lanier, who died Tuesday at the age of 73. Lanier played for the Bucks from 1980 to 1984, and his No. 16 jersey hangs from the rafters of the Fiserv Forum. . … Approximately 10,000 fans packed the Deer District outside the Fiserv Forum.

CHANGE OF CREW LEADER

Scott Foster, the scheduled crew chief for Game 6, was unable to officiate due to illness unrelated to COVID-19. Eric Lewis took over as crew chief with Ben Taylor working as referee and Tre Maddox as referee.

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