Giannis Antetokounmpo had 31 points and 14 rebounds and the Milwaukee Bucks pulled away late to beat the visiting Boston Celtics, 97-86, on Thursday night to force a Game 7 in their first-round series.
Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon each added 16 points, with Brogdon hitting a momentum-swinging 3 from the left corner to give the Bucks a two-possession lead with 5 minutes 22 seconds left. The Bucks held the Celtics at bay from there to force a winner-take-all game Saturday night in Boston.
The up-and-coming Bucks haven’t played a seventh game in the playoffs since losing to the Atlanta Hawks in the first round in 2010.
Both teams went on extended runs to take big leads, but the Bucks made the last big push to close out the Celtics.
Boston had to settle for perimeter looks down the stretch. The Celtics couldn’t hit enough 3s, finishing 10 of 36 (28 percent) on the night, and the Bucks limited Boston on the glass.
On offense, Antetokounmpo led the Bucks’ charge right at the heart of the Celtics’ defense.
After Eric Bledsoe picked off an inbound pass by Jayson Tatum, Antetokounmpo converted a rebound with a putback off the glass for an 89-81 lead with 3:08 left. It was part of a late 11-3 run to help the Bucks pull away for a 10-point advantage.
With his team facing elimination, Antetokounmpo vowed to be more aggressive following a 5-point loss in Game 5.
Antetokounmpo, a two-time All-Star, produced down the stretch, scoring 20 points in the second half on 8-of-14 shooting.
Tatum finished with 22 points, and Terry Rozier had 18 for the Celtics. After holding the edge on the glass for most of the series, Boston got outrebounded, 48-39.
Stephen Curry has resumed full practice with contact and could play for the defending champion Golden State Warriors as soon as Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against New Orleans on Saturday night.
Curry practiced on Thursday wearing a protective black brace over his sprained left knee, which has sidelined him since March 23. Coach Steve Kerr listed Curry’s status as questionable for Saturday, but that could change if Curry responds well on Friday after one more day of full practice.
LeBron James’s block on Indiana’s Victor Oladipo in the closing seconds of Game 5 of the Cavaliers’ first-round Eastern Conference series against the Pacers on Wednesday should have been called goaltending, the N.B.A. said.
The league said the video shows James blocked Oladipo’s shot, taken with 5.1 seconds left, after it made contact with the backboard. The play could not be reviewed because it was not called on the floor. James then hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer, giving the Cavaliers a 98-95 victory and a three-games-to-two lead in the series.