Giant Milwaukee runs erased much of what Boston established through early leads on the offensive end as a flurry of shots to end the first two quarters pulled the Bucks ahead of them. Transition runs fed by turnovers hurt, but once again the Celtics failed to generate offense for long stretches in a 97-86 loss.
They could have played the 76ers in game 1 of the east semifinals on Saturday, instead they’ll return to the TD Garden for one more with Milwaukee to decide their seasons.
Both teams turned the ball over nine times but only the Bucks took advantage, shooting 50 percent to Boston’s 37. Malcolm Brogdon and Khris Middleton shot 12-of-15 combined while Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 31 points with 14 rebounds.
Jabari Parker’s transition layup and three to close the first quarter drew the Bucks within two after trailing by 10 early, and in a similar timeframe to close the second he followed an Antetokounmpo miss in transition to cap a 8-0 lead. A 9-0 run followed minutes later and Milwaukee took a 46-39 lead at halftime they would not squander.