Bucks survive late Celtics run in 104-102 victory to even series at 2-2

Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Boston Celtics’ Al Horford during the first half of Game 4 in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo tries to drive past Boston Celtics’ Al Horford during the first half of Game 4 in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

It just felt like the Bucks were too safe on Sunday. Too many early breaks had gone their way, too many Celtics were missing shots and too many bench players were turning into stars for Milwaukee. Something had to give.

With the Bucks up 20 in the third quarter, it finally did, but perhaps a bit too late for Boston’s liking.

Despite a furious comeback that saw Celtics take the lead with less than a minute left in regulation, Milwaukee escaped Game 4 with a 104-102 victory and series tied at two as it heads back to Boston.

A Giannis Antetokounmpo tip-in off a Malcom Brogdon runner proved to be the game-winner in nail-biting finish to a game that seemed destined for a blowout.

Antetokounmpo finished with 27 points (12-20 FG), seven rebounds and five assists while Khris Middleton added another 23 points (8-14 FG) and six boards.

But the real surprise for Milwaukee came off the bench, where Jabari Parker flashed the skillset that made him a lottery pick in 2014 with 16 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. He became the perfect complement to fellow reserve Thon Maker who followed up his breakout performance in Game 3 with another five blocks and eight points in Game 4.

Things started breaking the Bucks way with less than three seconds remaining in the first quarter. After Middleton knocked down a step-back for two with 1.2 left on the clock, Boston’s Marcus Morris (13 points, four rebounds) tried to roll the ball towards Shane Larkin only to see Matthew Dellavedova rush in and grab it for a floater at the buzzer.

That sparked a Bucks run to put them ahead 51-35 at halftime.

When Milwaukee found itself up 65-45 midway through the third frame, it felt like the Celtics’ attention was already shifting toward Game 5.

Then Jaylen Brown happened.

The game’s leading scorer, Brown (34 points, eight rebounds) started heating up as the Celtics chipped away at the Bucks’ lead. He scored 17 in the second half and knocked down a step-back three to close the deficit to 99-98 with less than two minutes to play.

That proved crucial as Jayson Tatum took control of a Milwaukee turnover and nailed a jumper to give the Celtics their first lead since late in the first quarter.

With the pressure back on the Bucks and Brogdon holding the ball, Antetokounmpo cleared out a lane for the reigning Rookie of the Year to drive towards the hoop and leave a floater sitting on the rim for an easy put-back for the win.

Before tipoff, fans at the Bradley Center could be heard chanting “Bucks in six”. With a victory on Sunday, they’ve guaranteed themselves an opportunity to make it happen.

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Blake Schuster is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at blakeschuster@yahoo.com
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