MILWAUKEE — The Celtics entered the fourth quarter of Game 4 seven points behind and effectively had their season on the line as a 3-1 series deficit stared them in the face against the defending champions.
From there, the Celtics played their best offensive quarterback of the season, exploding for 43 points to help pull away for the 116-108 victory.
“You get your hot streaks and a lot of them are great looks, wide open shots,” Ime Udoka said of the period. “We’ve talked about multiple paint dabs and their defense will wear off and we’ve had those wide open looks. The other bit was to stop and run in transition. We also have easy baskets. I don’t know who said it, but at the point where someone starts to fade a bit, we want to push the tempo and make it work in the half court. It was a time when we really increased paint contact as much as we could, getting favorable matchups, but having them in scramble mode gave us a lot of wide-opening shots.
How did they pull off the magic 12 minutes after failing to score 30 points in any of their first three quarters? A closer look at the numbers shows a quarterback that could end up being the best stretch any team plays this playoff.
The Celtics shot 84% from the field: It’s the most impressive stat of the bunch and was easily Boston’s best shooting quarterback in the playoffs. The team went 16 of 19 overall from the field and 4 of 5 (80% from 3-point range). The team had nine assists in their last frame out of 16 marks and perhaps most importantly had just one turnover. This limited Milwaukee’s transition opportunities, allowing Boston to get possession shots at a time when they were scorching off the floor. The mark was a playoff career high for the team.
Al Horford was perfect in the period: The 35-year-old scored 16 of his playoff career-high 30 points in the final period, going an incredible 6 of 6 from the field during the period. In total, he took eight shot attempts (including a pair from the free throw line) and made them all, none more impressive than his dunk on Giannis Antetokounmpo which helped Boston tie the game at 80 with 10 minutes left. to play in the quarter. The Celtics gave up a first-round pick to land the big man this season in a move much questioned at the time. However, he was the best player on the court when it mattered to Boston in this frame, securing a win for the Celtics when they desperately needed one.
Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart combined for 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting: The duo had their share of struggles in Game 3, missing key shots that could have given Boston the series advantage. However, they more than made up for it during critical time, taking the Celtics to the finish line after Horford put the Celtics back in the game early in the quarter.
Derrick White played all 12 minutes: The reserve guard hadn’t been a big factor this postseason heading into Game 3 against the Bucks with his offensive struggles. However, Ime Udoka opted to downsize late, with a smaller three guard look compared to Grant Williams and a big two formation. The tactic helped expand the field offensively and forced Milwaukee to stick to smaller lineups to better match Boston’s guards and speed. White stayed in the background for much of the goal burst, but delivered his second straight solid game of the playoffs with 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting.