Brad Stevens and the Boston Celtics entered Game 5 last night looking to make a statement. After giving up two straight wins in the series to the Milwaukee Bucks, Boston wanted to prove once again that they are the team to beat. Even without Kyrie Irving, who has missed the entire series and is out for the remainder of the season, the Celtics were able to pull off a huge 92-87 victory, as ESPN noted.
It was a hard-fought game, with both teams knowing what was on the line. Taking Game 5 and a 3-2 lead is a considerable advantage. Now, the Bucks will have to take care of business at home in Game 6 and then head back to Boston for a winner-take-all Game 7 if necessary.
Finding a way to replace Irving has been difficult for the Celtics. Terry Rozier has done an excellent job as the starter in his place, but the kind of impact that Irving has on a game simply cannot be replaced. Despite missing their best player, Boston has been showing how good of a team they can be when playing together.
Boston was led in scoring in Game 5 by Al Horford, who scored 22 points to go along with 14 rebounds. Rozier chipped in 16 points, while Jaylen Brown scored 14. Marcus Smart also returned from injury, scoring nine points to go along with five rebounds and four assists off the bench.
Giannis Antetokounmpo simply didn’t have a good game for the Bucks. He scored 16 points on 5-for-10 shooting, which isn’t normally a recipe for success for Milwaukee. Khris Middleton led the way for the Bucks with 23 points, while Jabari Parker and Eric Bledsoe scored 17 and 16, respectively.
All of that being said, what three takeaways can be seen for the Celtics from Game 5 against the Bucks?
The Celtics get it done at home, and take a 3-2 lead! pic.twitter.com/bFFzs7SrcS— ESPN (@espn) April 25, 2018
Marcus Smart Makes A Difference
Having Marcus Smart back in the rotation was a big plus for the Celtics in Game 5. He didn’t score a lot of points and didn’t shoot well, but simply having his presence on both ends of the court helped in a big way. Smart is an extremely aggressive and hard-nosed player and is able to help change the way a game is played with his abilities.
The ‘Greek Freak’ Can Be Slowed Down
There are very few players that are better than Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the entire league, but the Celtics found a way to hold him to just 10 shot attempts in Game 5. Boston may not be able to shut him down like that moving forward, but it showed that he can be slowed down. If the Celtics want to win this series, they will need to contain the “Greek Freak” in Game 6 and then again in Game 7 if necessary.
Boston Should Close It Out In Game 6
Finally, it was made clear that the Celtics were the better basketball team. Even without their superstar point guard, Boston has come together and should close the series out in Game 6. Milwaukee won’t go down without a fight, but they simply do not have the discipline or depth to keep the series alive.