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Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum placed on performances for the ages on Friday evening of their 108-95 victory as the 2 All-Stars every eclipsed the 40-point plateau because the Boston Celtics pressured a do-or-die Recreation 7 matchup in opposition to Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday afternoon at TD Backyard.  

Tatum was unbelievable for the Celtics on an evening the place they wanted him to be as he saved his finest efficiency of the sequence for an elimination recreation on the highway in what can simply be described as a hostile atmosphere. Tatum edged out Giannis for a game-high 46 factors to associate with 9 rebounds and 4 assists. Whereas his effort got here in a loss, Antetokounmpo was dominant ending the sport with 44 factors to associate with an astonishing 20 rebounds and 6 assists. 

Recreation 7 is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET on Sunday with ABC dealing with the nationwide broadcast. 

Listed here are three key takeaways from the sport:

1. Tatum delivers among the finest performances of his profession

Jayson Tatum has not at all times been at his finest on this sequence, however nice gamers do not let unhealthy video games or unhealthy stretches outline them. And Tatum has proven this season, and on Friday evening specifically, that he’s certainly an important participant. With the Celtics’ season on the road, he stepped up and delivered among the finest performances of his profession. 

He bought off to a scorching begin, flattening two 3-pointers within the first jiffy to assist the Celtics open up an early lead, however his finest and most necessary work got here within the fourth quarter. As soon as up by 18, the Celtics’ lead had been trimmed to 4 with 8:42 to play, and the flashbacks from Recreation 5 had been kicking in. Tatum made positive there wouldn’t be a second straight collapse.

First, an unbelievable fadeaway jumper on the baseline to beat the shot clock. Subsequent, a pull-up 3-pointer proper in George Hill’s face. Then he repeated the sequence with one other fadeaway and one other 3. Over a three-minute span he scored 10 straight factors for the Celtics and pushed the lead again to eight to offer them some respiration room. The Bucks would by no means get nearer. 

“Yeah, clearly he hit some massive ones all through the sport,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka mentioned. “Did that and made the precise play as nicely… Large evening by him, we positively wanted it.”

Tatum had 16 factors within the fourth quarter alone, and completed the evening with 46, 9 rebounds and 4 assists on 17-of-32 from the sector. Tatum’s 46 factors had been the second-most in franchise historical past when dealing with elimination, and he joined Sam Jones as the one different Celtic to have a number of 45-point playoff video games. 

“That is why he will get paid the massive bucks,” Marcus Sensible mentioned. “He went into one other mode proper there. We seen it in his eyes. He was aggressive, he was coming telling us ‘give me the ball.’ We gave him the ball. He requested for it and that is what we’re gonna do. Like I mentioned, that is why he will get paid the massive bucks.”

Jayson Tatum remains to be solely 24 years previous. He has a decade or extra and probably a whole bunch of playoff video games forward of him. It will be exhausting for him to play a greater one than he did on Friday evening. 

2. Giannis’ Herculean effort was not sufficient

The Bucks had been already a top-heavy group earlier than Khris Middleton went down with an MCL sprain within the first spherical in opposition to the Chicago Bulls, and with out him the issue is much more pronounced. His absence has pressured Giannis Antetokounmpo to tackle a considerably ridiculous burden, and try to hold the Bucks by himself. 

At occasions on this sequence he is been in a position to just do that; the Bucks have received three video games, in spite of everything. However even the most effective gamers cannot at all times do it on their very own, as Giannis and the Bucks came upon throughout Recreation 6. 

Giannis was good. He scored 17 factors within the first quarter to maintain the Bucks within the recreation regardless of the Celtics’ sturdy begin, and stored attacking all evening lengthy. There was little the Celtics might do to sluggish him down, as he powered his strategy to the paint for thunderous slams and journeys to the free throw line. 

“Giannis has been nice for them,” Jaylen Brown mentioned. “Relentless in his method. He is gonna hold going, hold attacking. His conditioning is nice, it does not look like he will get as drained as others. He simply retains coming.”

The Greek Freak ended with 44 factors, 20 rebounds and 6 assists, shot 14-of-15 from the free-throw line and grow to be the primary participant since Shaquille O’Neal in 2001 to have a 40-20 recreation within the playoffs. 

Giannis had an astounding 45.2 p.c utilization charge — his highest ever in a playoff recreation — and scored or assisted on 52 of the Bucks’ 95 factors. It was a really Herculean effort, and it wasn’t sufficient. Jrue Vacation and Pat Connaughton had been the one different gamers to attain in double figures, however neither chipped in additional than 17 factors. The Bucks have missed Middleton all through the sequence, however by no means extra so than Recreation 6. 

3. Celtics present resolve after Recreation 5 collapse

The Celtics ought to have been coming to Milwaukee to shut out the sequence on Friday evening. As an alternative, they had been those dealing with elimination after a late collapse in Recreation 5 that noticed them blow a 13-point fourth-quarter lead at house. Recovering from a heartbreaking defeat like that takes an incredible quantity of resolve, self-belief psychological toughness. 

After staving off elimination on the highway, it is clear the Celtics have all of the above. 

“I believe simply form of how a lot it stung, shedding that recreation like that,” Jayson Tatum mentioned. “All people had a nasty style of their mouth. Watching movie, studying from it and the eagerness — we had been upbeat. We weren’t defeated, realizing that we nonetheless had a chance to save lots of our season and are available in right here and get a win. We believed that, we actually did. we believed in one another and it confirmed tonight.”

The job is way from completed. Beating the most effective participant on the planet for a second straight recreation to get rid of the defending champs is not going to be simple, and the Celtics must regroup once more for Recreation 7 at house on Sunday. Nonetheless, a efficiency just like the one on Friday evening says rather a lot concerning the character of this group. 

“This was an enormous second for all of us,” Tatum mentioned. “For myself and the group, simply how we might reply. Shedding Recreation 5 was gonna make us or break us. We confirmed a number of toughness and progress popping out right here and getting a win on the highway.”

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