You can call him Al: 10 Takeaways from the Boston Celtics-Milwaukee Bucks 4

1. No one should start making plans for the NBA Finals, but the Boston Celtics claimed a championship-level victory in Game 4 against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Boston slipped as much as 11 points late in the third quarter. Milwaukee looked as if they had all life and were ready to take the lead in the 3-1 series.

Then, as they did throughout 2022, the Celtics dug deep and found their resilience again.

Derek White hit a three late in the third quarter that led to a 10-0 lead in the third and fourth quarters and Boston was off.

In the recent period alone, the numbers have been staggering. The Celtics shot 16 of 19, including 11 of 13 in the paint against the Bucks’ home defense. In all, Boston scored 43 points in the final frame, turning the ball only once.

Al Horford, Jayson Tatum, and Marcus Smart combined 37 points on 15 of 17 shots.

On the other hand, Milwaukee looked exhausted. They shot 11 of 23 in the fourth quarter, but the Bucks’ superstars, Giannis Antetokounmue and Gro Holiday, combined with just seven points in 3 of 12 from the ground.

Having achieved an amazing upset in Game Three, the Celtics finished the job in Game Four. Now the series is once again taking to Boston on a completely different tone than it could have been.

2. When we get into single malfunctions, we have to start with Al Horford. It was the story of the fourth game and it was the story of the series so far. Against the Bucks, Horford averaged 18.8 points on 54.9% of shots, including 50% from threes, to go along with 11.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.5 blocks. His defense against Giannis Antikonmo was also impressive.

Horford started early in Game 4, landing a shot that Im Odoka said in the subsequent game is “one we can always have” against this Bucks defense:

Whether it’s short or triple shots, Boston knows they can get Horford to take on Brooke Lopez when Lopez is in cover drop:

This was how to play and crowned 10-0 in the third and fourth quarters:

It’s amazing to see Horford showing so much emotion.

(Also, there’s no problem giving Horford a technical foul for hitting Giannis Antetokounmpo’s forearm after submersion. But…keep it up and call him the same way when Antetokounmpo does the same thing multiple times in each game. Seems fair, no?)

Underestimated after that explosive play, Horford immediately composed himself to continue making big plays. This three transition was huge. Also, Lopez can’t keep up with Horford when Horford runs the floor like this:

After three more games, which forever gave Boston the lead, Horford gave the Celtics a short distance with this jump hook for −1:

Their highest playoff high at 30 points, shooting 11 of 14, to go along with eight rebounds and three assists is just a brutal effort from the indispensable Boston veteran.

3. You should not get lost in the massive Al Horford night that Jayson Tatum finally succeeded. After scoring nine points in a 3-of-8 shot in the first half, Tatum exploded for 21 points in an 8-of-16 shot, six rebounds and five assists in the second half. This included 12 points in the fourth quarter.

Tatum made a few plays early on. This tumultuous end is what Boston was looking for when he was driving:

This shot is also there for Tatum a lot. He juggles the pick-and-pop with Horford and knocks the mid-range jumper against Brock Lopez’s drop:

But Tatum saved his best late in the game. He scored 10 consecutive points in a minute and a half at the end of the fourth quarter. This drive started:

On the next trip, Tatum drew 1 and 1 with this strong finish:

Ime Udoka said Boston targeted George Hill because they knew his leanings. Tatum was relentless about it, and he basically finished the Bucks with this triple pull over Hill:

Tatum’s 30 points would make headlines, but he also had 13 rebounds. His work on the boards allowed Boston to get small for most of the fourth quarter. If he can repeat it, the Celtics have found something really workable against Milwaukee’s tough defense.

4. No less authority than Al Horford said that Marcus Smart’s work on this game should not be overlooked, so we won’t make that mistake here.

Smart was dominant defensively. At 44 possessions while guarding either Giannis Antetokounmpo or Jrue Holiday, Smart kept the Bucks stars to six points in a 2-of-7 shot. That’s DPOY’s job.

She was also smart and very good at attacking. He dropped eight assists, including this amazing find for Derek White, when Wyatt slipped as he set up a screen for Jason Tatum:

This block on Brook Lopez is a good help from DPOY:

And late in the game, Smart went to work on the position. He played bully ball to keep coins off late property. First, SMART stepped up and finished off the holiday for this ending:

Then Smart did an easy job of this ending on Grayson Allen:

18 points, eight assists and a great defense from The Loved and Trusted One.

5. This will be the only negative takeaway on a truly positive night. Boston should relax with the transitions. Especially the bad ones who play live ball. Milwaukee is having a tough time scoring in the half field. But the dollars are fueled by transition, mostly sales shifts.

That’s a really bad pass from Grant Williams. And some terrible transfer defense from the Celtics followed as well:

Late in the first half, Smart awarded the Bank two points by throwing a slow pass from too far from his intended target:

Milwaukee had 13 points for the fast break, but scored more than 20 in the transition. And they scored 17 points in total sales, too. If Boston can keep the turnover low, and they come back on defense, the Bucks will have a hard time smashing 100 points.

6. Back to the good stuff, this includes Derek White, who played great basketball in both Milwaukee games. In Game 4, White finished with 11 points and seven rebounds and grabbed the players he guards without scoring any field goals.

Those three, who came late in the third quarter, catalyzed Boston 10-0 to beat the third and fourth quarters. It’s also a good example of the Celtics pushing the ball and attacking before the Bucks can defend them:

White also has a knack for dropping off when attacking. Great pass from Payton Pritchard here too:

7. Jaylen Brown put in a solid match, but spent a lot of the match facing a bug problem. If Boston is going to open that smaller lineup more often, Brown will need to be on the ground. The good news? He was able to finish the game without errors and put in some big plays in the fourth quarter to help the Celtics win.

8. We’ve mentioned it a few times here, but Boston is in a much better position when it’s accelerating at a steady pace. In this play, Payton Pritchard quickly gets to the ground and immediately goes to pick-and-pop to find Al Horford for the Three:

Sometimes that push can be a smart rundown. Grant Williams is only giving a partial contest here, because Boston wants Giannis Antikonmo to take that shot. But Williams cleverly reads that the Celtics have capped and leaked the panels. Nice pass by Horford to sink Williams easily too:

9. With Rob Williams sidelined due to a sore knee, Ime Udoka went to Daniel Theis for the big spare minute. This…didn’t go well. They really struggled on both ends of the earth. At 11 minutes, he took five shots and missed, mostly because the Bucks completely ignored him as a threat.

While this wasn’t the best of the Williams streak, the Celtics needed it. These are solid overall, but Williams’ athleticism, both vertical and fast, can make all the difference.

Fortunately, Odoka said Boston is hoping to see Williams back in the starting lineup for Game 5. He called the knee pain a “flare up” and said it was unexpected, given that Williams is only six weeks away from surgery.

10. It’s the best series of three right now. And two of those three are in Boston. This home cushion is great, and it’s earned through regular season play, but the Celtics really need to get their fifth game.

Expect the TD Garden to be noisy and bloodshot. Boston fans have a special attachment to this particular team and will want to give them a go. And with games being played every day now, the Celtics can harness that energy from home fans.

Game five is Wednesday, May 11th at 7:00 PM ET on TNT.

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