Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to steamroll the Boston Celtics, leading the Milwaukee Bucks to a 113-101 win and a 3-1 series lead on Monday night.
The loss leaves the Celtics on the verge of elimination as they travel to Milwaukee for Game 5 on Wednesday night.
"It's been a consistent thing for us where we haven't made shots, and the defensive end of the floor has taken lapses. But it just can't happen going forward," Kyrie Irving said after the game. "We have no choice. At this point, it's do or die."
In-depth news coverage of the Greater Boston Area.
Antetokounmpo finished with 39 points and 16 rebounds, while the Celtics were led by Irving's 23 points and 10 assists.
The Celtics got off to a strong start, fueled by some physical play and a quick 7 first-quarter points from Irving, but as he has since the second game of the series, Antetokounmpo continued to split the Boston defense with his long strides to the hoop, netting 8 first-quarter points of his own.
The Garden was ready and raucous at tip-off, and it got even louder when Marcus Smart entered the game with about 6 minutes left in the first quarter, marking his return from an oblique injury that had kept him out of the playoffs until now.
Despite looking rusty, Smart chipped in 3 points in the first quarter, and Marcus Morris added 7 as the Celtics closed out the first with a flurry. Jayson Tatum added a pair of free throws with 6 seconds left, but Pat Connaughton hit a 3-pointer as the quarter expired to bring the Bucks to within 8.
The Celtics kept the lead close to that margin for much of the second quarter, despite being unable to slow down Antetokounmpo. The Bucks star took a seat for a stretch late in the quarter, but the Bucks were able to pull to within 2 without him. Antetokounmpo returned with about 4 minutes left in the quarter, but he was called for a charge with 7 seconds remaining, leaving Boston with a 2-point lead at halftime thanks in large part to Morris, who finished the half with 11 points and 7 rebounds.
The Celtics opened the second half cold with two quick missed threes. And Antetokounmpo momentarily silenced the crowd with his own 3-pointer.
With about 7 minutes left in the third quarter, Irving had a terrific drive and dish to Al Horford for three to put the Celtics up 1. Moments later, Tatum thundered down the court, just missing a dunk but picking up one of two free throws to put Boston up 2.
The Bucks quickly drew even again, but an Eric Bledsoe airball got the Garden fans back into the game.
The Celtics, though, struggled to make shots for most of the night, shooting just 38 percent overall and 22 percent from three. And when the Bucks finally started making their shots, they started to pull away, with George Hill hitting a three, and quick buckets from Sterling Hill, Connaughton and Hill putting Milwaukee up 10 with under 2 minutes left in the quarter. The Celtics were able to whittle that lead down to 8, with Smart nearly hitting a ¾-court shot as time expired in the third.
But the fourth quarter was more of the same for Milwaukee, with Antetokounmpo scoring 5 quick points to carry the Bucks to a 12-point lead.
The Celtics fought back to within 5 points at 91-86 behind a pair of baskets from Horford and a three from Taytum that lit up the home crowd. But the Bucks continued to put up easy points, extending their lead to 10 with four minutes left.
It got so bad at the end that the crowd turned on the Celtics, booing loudly. One fan yelled "Go back to Cleveland" at Irving on what could wind up being the complicated point guard's last home game in Boston.
In the end, no matter what they did, the Celtics just had no answer for Antetokounmpo, the man-who-would-be league MVP.