BOSTON (CBS) — There will be a Game 7 in Boston. Jayson Tatum went off in Game 6 and the Celtics beat the Bucks, 108-95, in Milwaukee to force a winner-takes-all tilt on Sunday.
Tatum had his defining game and was electric throughout, but he really turned it up in the fourth quarter when he scored 15 of his game-high 46 points. He shot 17-for-32 overall and 7-for-15 from downtown in the victory for one of his finest performances in a Celtics uniform.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for Boston, after the Celtics blew a 14-point lead at home in Game 5.
The Celtics also got big games from Jaylen Brown (22 points) and Marcus Smart (21 points) on Friday night. Tatum, Brown, and Smart combined to score 89 of Boston’s 108 points.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was his usual self with 44 points and 20 rebounds. But it wasn’t enough to outdo Tatum and his monster performance.
The Celtics were raining threes to start the game, with eight of their first 10 buckets from downtown. The Bucks missed their first five shots, but then hit six straight to take a 20-17 lead in the first quarter. Antetokounmpo scored 15 of his points in the first quarter.
But eight straight points by Smart and a Tatum three to end the quarter had Boston on top 28-26 at the end of the quarter.
Tatum knocked down a three early in the second, and then made a beautiful feed to Brown in the corner for another triple to give the Celtics a 38-30 lead. Boston started 10-for-17 from downtown.
Derrick White had a phenomenal end to the half, hitting a three and then an off-balance runner to put the Celtics up 49-41. He then drew a charge on Giannis — his third foul — before getting to the free throw line and knocking down both shots to give the Celtics a 53-43 lead at the break.
The Boston defense held Milwaukee to 17 points off 8-for-25 shooting (just 1-for-9 from downtown) in the second quarter.
The Celtics’ lead ballooned to 15 points, 63-48, to start the third quarter as Tatum hit a three, made a beautiful spinning layup, and then found Brown for a pullup jumper. That was the first of three straight makes by Brown, who got Giannis to commit his fourth foul on nice coast-to-coast layup. Brown then drained a three to give Boston a 68-50 advantage.
But Boston missed six straight shots from deep (with a pair of Brown free throws mixed in), and a Giannis and-1 cut the lead 70-62. Smart stopped the bleeding by getting a friendly bounce on a three, and then Tatum put in a nice up-and-under to get the Boston lead back up to double digits, 75-64.
A Tatum driving and-1 gave the Celtics an 80-66 lead late in the quarter, and he followed it up with a deep step-back two (originally ruled a three) to put Boston up 82-68 with 12.3 seconds in the frame. Tatum had 3o points after three quarters and Boston led by 12 heading into the fourth.
It looked like Giannis had picked up his fifth foul with 10:16 to go in the final quarter when Grant Williams slid over and took the brunt of his drive. But Mike Budenholzer challenged and it was ruled that Williams was moving, and the call was changed to a blocking foul.
After Antetkounmpo hit his free throws, and White missed a layup on the other end, the Bucks cut the Boston lead to six on a Pat Connaughton three. That lead trimming occurred with Tatum on the bench to start the quarter.
The lead was down to four, 85-81, when Giannis hit a wide open straightaway three with 8:24 to go. But that is when the Celtics woke up again, thanks to Tatum.
The Boston star hit his next two shots as the shot clock went off — a 16-footer and a step back three — to get Boston’s lead to seven, 90-83. He then hit a fall away for his 38th points of the night and the lead was up to 92-83.
Tatum made it 11 straight points with his seventh three of the night, giving the Celtics a 95-87 edge with 5:40 on the clock. Brown added a three out of a Boston timeout and the Celtics’ lead was back up to 11, 98-87.
No lead is ever safe with Giannis on the other side, especially with the Bucks in the bonus for the final four minutes. But Tatum continued his tear with an aggressive driving two and the foul with 2:38 left, giving the Celtics a 103-89 lead.
Boston didn’t turn the ball over once in the fourth quarter. The Celtics won every quarter on Friday night, bouncing back in a big way following their devastating loss at home on Wednesday.
Now the series will come down to Game 7 in Boston on Sunday afternoon. Tipoff is set for 3:30pm at TD Garden.