7 takeaways from Game 4

Celtics

“I’m very lucky and lucky to be able to call Al a teammate.”

Al Horford of the Boston Celtics takes the field for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

After a violent, physical Game 4 against the Bucks, the Celtics can thank Al Horford for helping even the series with a 116-108 win on the road.

The Celtics were well into the fourth quarter after another collapse in the third, but Horford poured 16 points in the period to lead them back. He dove on Giannis Antetokounmpo and let out a roar at a subdued Milwaukee crowd. He buried some monstrous three-pointers. He fired a wild hookshot that fell through when caught, giving the Celtics a four-point lead.

Horford finished with 30 points on 11-for-14 shooting and 5-for-7 from deep. He looks rejuvenated and thanks to him the Celtics have a chance. It’s unclear if his 3-point shot can stay at this level (a scorching 53.5 per cent in the post-season) or if some degree of regression is inevitable, but the Celtics can thank the oldest player on the roster for giving it a shot. heap. A loss in Game 4, and the Celtics would have come back to earth after flying high since January – trailing the defending champions 3-1.

Udoka said Horford’s performance “energised” the Celtics.

“He’s been great all year, but we really needed him to perform with guys who are out,” Udoka said. “He took that on his shoulders. They guard him in a way, he is able to attack, likes the aggressiveness and extras.”

The Celtics regained home field advantage and took a lot of pressure off their shoulders. After Horford’s exploits, the series will look very different on Monday at 10:30 pm than at 9:20 pm.

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2. Jayson Tatum struggled for most of the game, but when the Celtics needed a reliable attack, he came through with several crucial possessions, including a monstrous three-pointer and this lopsided layup that he couldn’t possibly have wanted through the net.

Tatum – who finished with 30 points on 11-for-24 shooting – didn’t have a dominant performance in his kickback from an ugly Game 3 (4-for-19 from the floor), but he was big in the moments that mattered and helped the Celtics to save their season.

“He finally got into a good rhythm,” Udoka said. “I think, possibly, with… [Jaylen Brown] out and with the ball much more in his hands, he finally found a good rhythm. We found some actions that we liked for him and then some isolations where we don’t always take the screen with us, we feel we can beat his man. Give him a little more room to operate. He went downhill, got aggressive and started taking the 3s down. What he’s been doing all year. It took him some time to get going in this game, but finished well in the fourth of course, especially as JB was out. †

As good as Horford was in Game 4, there’s no guarantee he can continue this scorching pace, and Tatum himself showed how crucial it is to have a player who can make his own buckets in the big moments. Horford put the Celtics on four in the final quarter, but it was Tatum who carried them home.

“I played terrible Game 3 and we almost had a chance to win, and that was the hardest part, knowing that. So I was eager to come back and ready to play and whether it scored or not, just come out and just play better on both sides of the floor,” Tatum said, sounding annoyed at himself. “I’m doing what I can to help us win.”

3. Brown picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter in an attempt (and failed) to shield Antetokounmpo. Brown struggled immensely when the Celtics let him switch to Antetokounmpo in Game 3, so they had plenty of warnings, but Brown found himself facing Antetokounmpo again on multiple failed occasions.

Maybe Brown didn’t like Antetokounmpo’s nudge in the fourth quarter which prompted him to throw Antetokounmpo’s conciliatory hand on his back, or maybe Brown was upset because Antetokounmpo was chasing him for much of the game. Either is plausible. Brown finished with 18 points on 5-for-11 shooting.

4. Marcus Smart scored some crucial baskets in the fourth quarter and seemed to realize that certain Bucks matchups just couldn’t contain him. It will be interesting to see if the Celtics hunt for those matchups in the future.

“Everyone played great on different tracks,” Tatum said.

5. Give the Celtics a lot of credit: They beat the Bucks without Robert Williams, who was in knee pain.

6. Last summer’s Horford deal was justified long before Monday, but his performance in Game 4 made it clear how vital that smart move was to the Celtics’ success. In his post-match comments, Tatum somehow managed to sweeten the pot even more.

“Al has been great for the team, Al has been great for me,” Tatum said, emphasizing the second part. “I’ve been lucky enough to play with Al for three years and I remember coming into my rookie year and seeing Al Horford. I’ve watched him play all my life, and it was great to see someone who took care of their bodies, was just the ultimate professional, the ultimate teammate and was just all about the right things. No one can ever say anything about Al, and he’s helped me a lot in the three years we’ve been playing together.

“I’m very lucky and lucky to be able to call Al a teammate.”

Horford’s dunk with 9:51 left proved to be a crucial turning point.

“The energy changed when that happened,” Smart said.

The Celtics tied the game with a slam and free throw, capping an 11-1 run that went back to a three by Derrick White in the third quarter, reducing the lead from 10 to seven at the start of the game. the break. The Celtics defeated the Bucks 43-28 in a dominant fourth quarter.

Earlier in the game, Antetokounmpo received a technical foul for dunking on Horford and then barked something at him.

Horford nodded to Antetokounmpo after the game and continued to nod for several seconds.

“I don’t really know what he said to me, but the way he looked at me and the way he did it really didn’t suit me,” Horford said. “And I think something changed in the game with me at that point.”

7. Something has also changed in the series. Game 6 back in Milwaukee is now a certainty, but first the two teams travel back to Boston.

“I’m fine, and I can’t wait to go home, rest and just be back in Boston,” Horford said.

Tatum agreed.

“I’m excited to go back home, excited to play for our fans on Wednesday,” he said. “Take it easy and get back to it.”

The Celtics have a chance to take a 3-2 series lead at TD Garden on Wednesday, tipping off at 7pm

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