Both the Boston Celtics and the Bruins face elimination in their respective playoffs if they don't come away with a win in their upcoming games.
In Boston’s biggest blown lead in the NBA playoffs in more than 25 years, the Celtics were winning 93-79 early in the fourth before the Bucks closed the gap. The C's offense went cold, leaving Milwaukee with the opportunity to erase a 14-point, fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Celtics 110-107 and take a 3-2 series lead.
“They’re the defending champs. They made some championship plays. And now we’ve got to bounce back," Marcus Smart said.
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The Bucks played strong defense in the closing minutes of the game, and without Robert Williams, the Celtics were out-rebounded on the offensive boards. The Bucks can advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a victory in Game 6 at home Friday night.
”We outplayed them for 3½ quarters,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said. “We talked about showing our resolve, and we made it tougher on ourselves now. It’ll make it sweeter when we bounce back. But we gave up a golden opportunity tonight.”
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Meanwhile, the Bruins return to the Garden at 7 p.m. Thursday in a similar high-stakes situation. The Hurricanes look to clinch the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after beating the Bruins in Carolina Tuesday, taking the lead in the series at 3-2.
The home teams have been in control of this series. That’s a reason for Boston Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy to feel confident about his team’s chances of extending the season.
“For us, we need to win a home game,” Cassidy said. “That’s all that’s in front of us right now.”
Cassidy said Jeremy Swayman will make his third straight start in Game 6, and he anticipates having defenseman Hampus Lindholm back in the lineup. Lindholm hasn’t played since being leveled on a jarring shoulder-to-chest hit by Carolina’s Andrei Svechnikov in Game 2.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.