In Game 4, the Bucks ran up a 20 point lead with 7 minutes to go in the third quarter.
Celtics coach Brad Stevens could have leaned on any one of those promising developments. Terry Rozier has done a nice job, but having Smart back adds much-needed alternatives in the Brad Stevens offense.Smart is far from flawless, and that's what makes him such an intriguing player. The home team has won all five games in the first-round series.
For a Celtics team caught shorthanded, heading into the postseason, things seem to be looking up. The Celtics consistently needed that little bit of extra to push them over the top, and often it was Smart who gave it to them. As I said, I had open shots, but they wasn't my shots, so I didn't feel comfortable to take them.
The Bucks need to be more aggressive in Game 6 later this week in order to keep their playoff dreams alive, so expect to see Giannis get a lot more involved in the action than what he did last night.
Marcus Smart didn't have to do anything out of the ordinary to reinvigorate the injury-ridden Celtics against the Bucks in Game 5.
Dellavedova finished Game 3 playing 16 mintutes, contributing five points and four assists, though as is so often the case with Delly, the box score stats only tell a fraction of the story. He scored some points (9), grabbed some rebounds (5), and dished out some assists (4), but anyone who has watched Smart play basketball knows his impact lives beyond the stats from the box score.
Milwaukee got within 87-84 after a layup by Eric Bledsoe, but the Celtics hit enough free throws the rest of the way to secure the win. Inexplicably, Marcus Morris rolled the ball out to Shane Larkin, in an attempt to milk the clock and get one last shot off. Dellavedova not only pounced on the ball, but somehow banked in a shot over the outstretched arm of the stunned Morris.
Perhaps Smart's return not only lifted the spirits of the Celtics, but it also offered fans - some of which ruthlessly critique the 24-year-old - an overwhelming sense of relief that this team's not done just yet. He assigned Semi Ojeleye to defend Antetokounmpo.
Stevens not only went with Ojeleye to start the game, he went with him late. "Tonight we had too many lapses where we just didn't want it as bad as they did". And he also remembers the sting of last season, when the Bucks went home for Game 6 trailing Toronto 3-2 and wound up letting a pair of late leads slip in what became a season-ending loss. And then there were hustle plays all over the floor. When asked after Game 3 if there was any concern about defending the electric Rozier after a lack of game time before the playoffs, Dellavedova wasn't phased. Rozier bumped Bledsoe near the baseline. Dragic was tracking back after a turnover and fouled Simmons before delivering the whack, which earnt him a technical foul. Milwaukee would need to win Game 6 for there to be a Game 7.