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Giannis Antetokounmpo asserted himself in the biggest game of his budding career with his team on the brink of playoff elimination.
Now it’s on to Game 7 for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 14 rebounds and the Bucks pulled away late to beat the Boston Celtics 97-86 on Thursday night to force a winner-take-all game Saturday night in Boston.
”At the end Charley Taylor Jersey , it was (all) about will,” Antetokounmpo said. ”I was out there, I was trying to make plays, I was trying to be aggressive.”
He had plenty of company to help keep the Celtics on their heels down the stretch.
Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon each added 16 points, with Brogdon hitting a momentum-swinging 3 from the left corner to give the Bucks a two-possession lead with 5:22 left.
Just getting to Game 7 is a small but significant step for a young team that lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors a year ago. The up-and-coming Bucks haven’t played a seventh game in the playoffs since losing to Atlanta in the first round in 2010.
”This is what you work for. Embrace that moment. Go out as a team, attack it together … find a way to get a win,” coach Joe Prunty said.
The Celtics had their shots to win in it six. They led by nine early, then drew as close as 80-78 with 7:13 left on Marcus Morris’ 3-pointer.
The Bucks made the last big push to close out the Celtics.
Boston had to settle for perimeter looks down the stretch. They couldn’t hit enough 3s, finishing 10 of 36 (28 percent) on the night, and the Bucks limited Boston on the glass.
”We got stagnant and we weren’t very good,” coach Brad Stevens said
At the other end O. J. Simpson Jersey , Antetokounmpo led the Bucks’ charge right at the heart of the Celtics’ defense.
After Eric Bledsoe picked off Jayson Tatum’s inbounds pass, Antetokounmpo converted an offensive rebound with a putback off the glass for an 89-81 lead with 3:08 left. It was part of an 11-3 run late to help the Bucks pull away for 10-point advantage.
With his team facing elimination, Antetokounmpo vowed to be more aggressive following a five-point loss in Game 5.
The two-time All-Star produced in the crunch time, scoring 20 points in the second half on 8-of-14 shooting.
”It’s big. We’ve grown as a team,” Antetokounmpo said. ”For us to win Game 6 – we have a big opportunity ahead of us.”
Tatum finished with 22 points, and Terry Rozier had 18 for the Celtics. After holding the edge on the glass for most of the series, Boston got outrebounded 48-39.
”Clearly their speed and length and athleticism affected us,” Stevens said. ”They were quicker to the ball all night than us, best probably exemplified by the rebounding numbers.”
Celtics: Stevens stuck with the same starting five he used for Game 5, with Semi Ojeleye in for Aron Baynes for a quicker frontcourt on defense. … Former President Bill Clinton attended the game and exchanged handshakes with guard Marcus Smart. … Jaylen Brown added 14 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
Bucks: C John Henson (back) missed his fourth straight game, with Thon Maker getting his first start of the series over Tyler Zeller. Maker finished with four points and one block. … Held a 25-4 edge on transition points. … Jabari Parker had another strong game off the bench with nine points and 11 rebounds http://www.washingtonredskinsteamonline.com/paul-richardson-jersey , while Tony Snell had six points.
Veteran forward Al Horford chalks up Game 6 as another valuable learning experience for his young teammates.
No better education than a seventh game in the playoffs on home court.
”It’s going to be new for our group. This whole playoff experience has been new, we have a lot of new pieces,” Horford said. ”As a basketball player, fan, one of the places that you want to enjoy and be is the TD Garden for a Game 7.”
He finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
”We got great looks this whole series. It’s a matter of knocking it down and trusting the pass. … We need to have that same mentality going into Game 7.” – Middleton.
Game 7 is Saturday night at the TD Garden in Boston.
DENVER — The Colorado Rockies begin a weekend series Friday with the Miami Marlins, hoping to finish a homestand by taking advantage of another National League East laggard.
A 6-4 win over the New York Mets on Thursday enabled the Rockies to take three of four games in that series. The Marlins (29-46), who were off Thursday, have the worst road record (15-25) in the NL but have won nine of their past 16 games overall. They are 3-3 on a road trip that included stops in Baltimore and San Francisco and will end in Denver.
“This has been a good little three-game swing for us,” Rockies manager Bud Black said after his team beat the Mets for the third straight time. “We were scuffling a little bit on the mound. We were starting to hit. So collectively, these three hopefully produce a little momentum going forward.”
The Rockies (37-38) broke their major-league record-tying string of allowing at least eight runs in nine consecutive home games but have won a season-high tying three straight games at Coors Field where they are 14-20.
Jon Gray (6-7 5.89) will start for the Rockies against Marlins left-hander Wei-Yin Chen (2-3, 5.91). Gray is 0-2 William Perry Jersey , 7.36 in his past two starts, the most recent Sunday at Texas where he gave up one run in five innings and left after giving up five runs and facing four batters in the sixth. The last was Jurickson Profar, who hit a two-run homer that gave the Rangers a 6-5 lead. Gray ended up with a no-decision in what became a 13-12 loss to the Rangers.
Gray is 1-2, 6.75 in four starts against the Marlins and 3-3, 6.45 in seven starts at home this season.
Chen gave up three runs in six innings Saturday at Baltimore and won 5-4. It was his first victory in nine starts since he made his 2018 debut against the Rockies in Miami and held them to one run in 5 1/3 innings.
Chen is 1-3, 8.88 in six starts on the road this season. He’s 1-1, 7.07 in three starts against the Rockies and will be pitching at Coors Field for the first time.
The Marlins scored three runs in the ninth Monday to beat the Giants 5-4. They are coming off a 6-5 loss Wednesday to the Giants. In that game, Miami came back from a 5-1 deficit and scored two runs in the seventh and two more in the ninth before J.B. Shuck struck out to end the game with runners on first and second. For a young team in a total rebuild like the Marlins, a stirring comeback win followed two games later by a close-but-not-quite effort can help.
“If we’re going to grow,” veteran Marlins outfielder Cameron Maybin said after Wednesday’s game, “these are the kinds of series that you need to be in. The type of series where the fans come at you. I think series like this can help a young team like us grow Pierre Desir Jersey , more than anything.”
Unlike the Marlins, the Rockies, an NL wild-card team last year, have realistic aspirations of returning to the postseason, something they have never done in consecutive seasons.
A series win against Miami would complete a 5-2 homestand for the Rockies, a series sweep would make it 6-1 Regardless, a stumble against the Marlins would be ill-advised.
“We know that we’re a good team that’s got to take care of business, especially when we play at home and play teams that everybody will say on paper we’re going to win those games,” Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said. “I think we’re making progress. We’re hitting the ball well. Pitching is making progress, too. We believe in each other. I think this is the perfect time for us to continue to play good baseball and finish strong the first half.”
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