Giannis Antetokounmpo is unstoppable.
The Bucks superstar tore through the Celtics offensively and smothered them defensively in Milwaukee’s 123-116 Game 3 win Friday. Antetokounmpo’s stat line – 32 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals – is matched in a playoff game by only Ralph Sampson in the Basketball-Reference database, which has full data since 1984.
Antetokounmpo often left Boston helplessly fouling him. He attempted 22 free throws, most by anyone in a game the last two postseasons.
After the Celtics stunned them with a 22-point Game 1 win in Milwaukee, the Bucks have seized momentum in this second-round series. Milwaukee won Game 2 by 21 and held a 15-point lead with three minutes left before ceding a late run tonight.
Teams with home-court advantage leading a best-of-seven series 2-1 have won it 88% of the time. Boston will try to reduce its disadvantage in Game 4 Monday, but even a win would only even the series with Milwaukee at home in Game 5 and, if necessary, Game 7.
As great as Antetokounmpo was tonight, the Bucks played Boston even while he sat thanks to huge contributions from George Hill (21 points on 9-of-12 shooting) and Pat Connaughton (14 points on 4-of-9 3-point shooting). Milwaukee broke open the game with a 12-0 run late in the third quarter that mostly occurred while Antetokounmpo rested.
Kyrie Irving (29 points on 8-of-22 shooting) got his points, but the Celtics’ offense too often stagnated late.
Still, this was a well-played game overall. Both teams moved well offensively, and keeping up, defensively. Both made 40% of their 3-pointers. Both had a deep pool of players contribute.
But only one had Antetokounmpo.