3 keys for Milwaukee Bucks to take crucial 3-1 lead vs. Boston Celtics

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 07: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - MAY 07: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Wesley Matthews. Boston Celtics: Jayson Tatum
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – MAY 07: (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

There’s nothing like some home cooking if you’re the Milwaukee Bucks in the playoffs, huh? Following a brutal loss in Game 2, the defending champs had a long layoff, came back home, and pulled out a nail-biting Game 3 win to put themselves in a position to take a 3-1 lead tonight over the Boston Celtics.

They sure didn’t make it easy down the stretch of that game, giving up a 14-point lead late but the Bucks pulled through as they have all season it feels like. Giannis Antetokounmpo finally got going offensively after appearing to figure a few things out in the second half of Game 2 and should have another big night tonight.

The Bucks are 19-4 at Fiserv Forum in the playoffs under head coach Mike Budenholzer so getting a win to take that commanding series lead is imperative tonight. Teams with a 3-1 lead in a series go on to win just over 95 percent of the time with only 13 teams ever coming back from down 3-1.

The Milwaukee Bucks need to limit the fouls in Game 4 against the Boston Celtics

After doing a great job of defending DeMar DeRozan without fouling in the first round, the Bucks have found themselves in a mud fight of a series with the Celtics and the physicality has led to a ton of fouls called for both teams.

Milwaukee averaged under 18 fouls per game in their five first-round games, the lowest of any team in the first round and right around the same amount as they averaged in the regular season.

Through three games in this series, the Bucks are averaging 22 fouls per game which is middle-of-the-pack for the eight teams remaining, one fewer than the Celtics, and four more per game than the regular season.

Boston is also taking the second-most free throws per game at 23 a night, which is helped by their 34 attempts in Game 3 (and was double what the Bucks took). That can’t happen for a second straight game if they want to go up 3-1.

Four of the Bucks’ starters picked up four or more fouls (Brook Lopez had five) and with Budenholzer’s penchant for fouling out his own players (remember folks, foul trouble is a self-induced problem), those guys need to do a better job at defending without fouling.

It may be difficult in Game 4, though, as Celtics head coach Ime Udoka suggested he’ll tell his players to flop more to pick up calls. They were already called for six fewer fouls, had double the amount of free throws, and employ Marcus Smart. I’m not sure what more they want, but it feels like Game 4 will be another tightly officiated game.