Bucks lean on bench en route to 3-1 series lead

BOSTON MASSACHUSETTS- MAY 03 Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens reacts during the second half of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals of the 2019 NBA Playoffs at TD Garden

MILWAUKEE (AP) - Giannis Antetokounmpo had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists, helping Milwaukee advance to the Eastern Conference final.

By the second quarter of Game 4 in Boston - with the score still tied - the TD Garden crowd had all but died.

"We got a couple of wide-open looks", Durant said. "In the first game, we weren't focused enough". This is Kyrie Irving we are talking about, and he's coming in talking about disrupting us. Since then, the Bucks have been dominant, winning three straight games with MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way. Khris Middleton has averaged 19.5 points and collected 5.2 rebounds while shooting 45.9 per cent over the last 10 games for Milwaukee. Toronto now leads the series 3-2, but either team will likely represent a bigger challenge for the Bucks than what the Celtics mustered. Milwaukee is averaging 112.3 points per game in the series, but has scored 123, 123 and 113 points over the last three games. A win would move the Bucks into the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001, when they lost to the Allen Iverson-led Philadelphia 76ers in seven games. "But at the end of the day, we are conscious of trying to keep him fresh", Budenholzer said.

"We're not anxious about who we're playing against, really", Middleton said. "We need to all play better on Wednesday".

Prior to the clinching win, several Bucks took turns speaking to the team.

For that reason, in addition to many others, Grant Hill didn't hold back when he recently criticized Irving for his lack of leadership, suggesting that he ultimately failed to live up to the Celtics standard of excellence.

Hill finished with 16 points, and Mirotic had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon continues to be sidelined with a plantar fascia tear he suffered in mid-March: he missed the first four games but the team hopes to have him back in the near future. The Bucks posted the second-best home record in the National Basketball Association this season at 33-8, although the Raptors (32-9) and Sixers (31-10) weren't far behind.

For the Celtics, four players scored in double figures, led by Kyrie Irving with 15 points. Aside from his decent outing last game, Jayson Tatum has been pretty much invisible for these guys. Milwaukee never saw Boston get closer than five the rest of the way.

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"We just couldn't find a way to do it".

"You hate to see anybody go down, especially somebody we know that well", Houston's Chris Paul said. The final three games are only played if necessary, depending on how the first four of the series go.

Antetokounmpo picked up his third foul when Jaylen Brown drove to the hoop early in the second half, but he stayed in the game.

Rockets: Eric Gordon started 0-for-8 before hitting a three with 7:45 left in the third.

Irving went 6 for 21 from the field in what might have been his final game with Boston. Kyrie Irving can be petulant, and his impending free agency only added drama.

Celtics president Danny Ainge said coach Brad Stevens deserved the least blame "by far" for Boston's problems this season. "We've got to be more poised and that has to be a focus".

Can the Warriors match the Rockets' small-ball lineup that spreads the floor, ensures more 3's and makes it hard to deny second-chance points?

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