Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 17 of his 39 points in the fourth quarter Monday as the Milwaukee Bucks pushed past the Boston Celtics 113-101 to move one win from advancing in the NBA playoffs.
The Bucks’ third straight victory — and their second on the Celtics’ home floor in Boston — put Milwaukee up 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference second-round series.
They’ll try to put it away when they host game five on Wednesday.
Once again in this series, the third quarter proved pivotal, with the Bucks outscoring the Celtics 33-23 to take a 49-47 halftime deficit to an 80-72 lead.
The turnaround came with Antetokounmpo on the bench with his fourth foul for the last eight minutes of the quarter.
During that span, the Bucks outscored the Celtics 21-13 and when Antetokounmpo returned in the fourth, the Bucks only pressed the action more.
Milwaukee took their biggest lead of the night 91-79 – on a driving Eric Bledsoe’s finger-roll finish with 9:05 left to play.
Boston closed within five on Al Horford’s driving layup less than two minutes later, but they would get no closer.
Antetokounmpo, coming off a 32-point game on Friday, connected on 15 of 22 shots from the field and pulled down 16 rebounds.
Bledsoe and Khris Middleton added 13 points apiece and George Hill added 15 points off the bench.
“It’s amazing,” Antetokounmpo said. “I think the whole group, the whole team played hard. Everybody was ready, everybody stepped up.
“This is what (separates) an average team from a great team,” he added, “that if you have the opportunity to be up two games, we’re all ready.”
Middleton handed out seven assists, and drew praise from Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer for keeping the offense flowing.
“I couldn’t get any shots off,” said Middleton, who finished the night four-of-19 from the field.
“I just tried to do all the little things — make the extra pass, drive and find open teammates and then feed this guy,” he said with a nod toward Antetokounmpo.
“He took it over for us in the fourth quarter,” Middleton said. “He was in foul trouble all night but he stayed with it.”
Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 23 points and 10 assists, but made just seven of 22 shots from the field.
Horford shot eight of 16 to post 20 points and Marcus Morris scored 18.
Overall, the Celtics made just 37.8 percent of their shots and heard boos from the home field as they left the court. (Agence France-Presse)