Bobby Portis turned a missed Giannis Antetokounmpo free throw into a go-ahead hoop, Jrue Holiday made two critical defensive plays in the final 8.1 seconds and the visiting Milwaukee Bucks rallied past the Boston Celtics 110-107 on Wednesday night for a 3-2 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series.
Antetokounmpo finished with a game-high 40 points, including a 3-pointer during Milwaukee’s late comeback, to put the Bucks one win away from their third trip to the Eastern Conference finals in the past four seasons.
Game 6 of the best-of-seven series is scheduled for Friday night at Milwaukee.
Portis’ game-winning basket came after Antetokounmpo got Milwaukee within 107-106 by making the first of two free throws with 14.2 seconds left, then missed the second.
Two Celtics fought over the rebound in a crowd, and when the ball deflected to Portis under the hoop, he converted a layup that gave the Bucks the lead for good.
Marcus Smart attempted to counter immediately for the Celtics, but Holiday blocked his driving attempt with 8.1 seconds left and threw the ball off Smart and out of bounds, giving the Bucks possession with 6.6 seconds to go.
The Celtics were then forced to foul Pat Connaughton, and his two free throws with 5.9 seconds left completed the scoring.
Without a timeout available, the Celtics had to try to rush the ball up the court for a potential game-tying 3-pointer, but Holiday stripped Smart near midcourt and ran out the clock on Milwaukee’s second win at Boston in the series.
Boston’s Jaylen Brown scored 16 of his 26 points in the third quarter, when the Celtics appeared to take control of the game. The hosts were up by nine points after three periods and by as many as 14 early in the fourth.
The Bucks chipped away, eventually drawing even at 105-all with 42.4 seconds remaining after Antetokounmpo and Holiday buried 3-pointers.
Jayson Tatum capped a team-high, 34-point game by sinking two free throws with 31.1 seconds left to put Boston back up by two, setting up the wild finishing sequence.
Antetokounmpo completed a double-double with 11 rebounds, while Portis led all rebounders with 15 off the bench and contributed 14 points.
Holiday finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and a game-high eight assists, and Connaughton had 13 points for the Bucks, who outscored the Celtics 39-30 on 3-point attempts. Holiday had four of Milwaukee’s 13 treys.
Smart (15 points) and Daniel Theis (11) backed Tatum and Brown for the Celtics.