Celtics vs. Bucks: Jason Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmue Rivalry in the All-Time Heavyweight Match

Giannis Antetokounmue and Jason Tatum gave us a heavyweight match for the ages on Friday, collecting 90 points from 62 shots. Tatum’s Celtics took the win, sending the series to Game 7 on Sunday.

Come down to help. Tatum, who finished with 46 points in 17 to 32, had more. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart combined for 43 points with nine three-pointers, both hitting crucial three-pointers over a stretch. Antetokounmpo’s highest support was 17 quiet and somewhat ineffective pips from Jrue Holiday. Off the 14 bench for Pat Connaughton, no buck scored more than six points.

Tatum took the reins throughout the pivotal game. The Bucks had cut Boston’s 14-point lead to four with just over eight minutes to play on Giannis’ 3-over-key. The building was burning. It was the Celtics merely About to lose their grip. Then Tatum shot 10 in a row on some of the silkiest jumpers you can draw.

Less than three minutes later, the Boston team regained their lead to 11 and were safe the rest of the way. Brown called it a “special” performance by Tatum, and he’s right. Think about the history of the Boston Celtics, and Tatum is now just plain The second player in franchise historyjoining Sam Jones, to post several 45-point playoffs.

Tatum’s 46 is also the second highest producing Boston player in an elimination game, in a tie with Paul Pierce. Tatum is also one of only five players in history to score 45+ to force a 7, joining LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Kawhi Leonard and Jamal Murray.

Boston, in addition to their defense, became a title contender because, in part, Tatum had tempered the champ ball, but the Celtics needed a champ in Game 6 and they went up. It was pretty efficient on Friday, but like Giannis, this was also just writing stuff.

Tatum has had 85 shots in his last three games. James Harden took two shots in the second half of Philly’s season-ending loss on Thursday. He’s only got into Game 6 shooting 40 percent for the series, but he’s not going to come out quietly. He had no intention of evading the bright lights.

You always hope for efficiency, but the ruthlessness of a great scorer is much appreciated in such moments. Giannis the same way. No one else was going to Milwaukee, so he put his head down, literally, and scored 44 for the Bucks on 30 shots. He added 20 rebounds to join Shaquille O’Neal as the only player this century to write 40-20 playoffs. Throwing his six passes while standing alone.

I was really late in the Giannis wagon. I was, and will forever be, skeptical of guys who can’t shoot and have to fight their way to the edge (yes, I know Giannis has improved tremendously as a midrange shooter even when he was a 3-point shooter, even if The numbers are pretty bad for the latter). But duty is the operative term here.

Antetokounmpo’s utter refusal to refuse, his willingness to flirt with, and often commit, out-of-control accusations and twists by regression time after time, his endless pursuit of offensive planks, corpses dangling from him as he catches himself making mistakes and back again, is truly exhausting to watch. But it never burns. Doesn’t stop coming. Harden once said Giannis has no skills, and I’ll be damned if a part of me ignorantly doesn’t agree, but I’m here to tell you, a drive like that on a body like that, it’s not just a skill, it’s a superpower.

Tatum’s most beautiful buckets. Antetokounmpo is inevitable. For this reason, I want to give the Bucks a slight edge in Game 7, despite the Boston Stadium advantage over their home ground. Giannis will be close to 40. I’d bet just about anything. However, Tatum has more reliable offensive assist at Brown and Smart and I’d bet on a big match at Al Horford too. Chris Middleton’s absence can really be felt in creating the solo half-pitch for the tense 7 game.

Whatever the case, what a brawl between two of the top players in the game we had on Friday. Given the mentalities of these guys, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we get a sequel on Sunday.

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