3 keys for Milwaukee Bucks to close out Boston Celtics in Game 6

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Milwaukee Bucks: Bobby Portis, Pat Connaughton, Jrue Holiday

May 11, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

After snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in Game 4, the Milwaukee Bucks flipped the script and stole a massive Game 5 win in TD Garden to go up 3-2 and now have a chance to close the series out tonight at Fiserv Forum.

It’s remarkable that the Bucks are at this point given some of the shooting numbers, not having their second-best player, and not getting as much from key guys as you would have expected. But Milwaukee continues to grind out wins in this series and is now a game away from going to their third Conference Final in four years.

The Milwaukee Bucks need another big performance from Bobby Portis to close out the Boston Celtics in Game 6

It wasn’t the perfect game or the one we had envisioned for Bobby Portis, but as the team as a whole, it was enough to get the job done and he came up when it mattered most.

Portis still hasn’t broken out of his shooting funk after going 0-of-2 from deep in Game 5 but he was much more active on the offensive end and was crucial on defense in the fourth quarter of that game.

Offensively, he grabbed seven offensive rebounds (one shy of his career-high and a new playoff career-best) and got to the free-throw line six times. Portis was more aggressive in attacking mismatches or simply looking for his shot around the basket in this game and it led to him getting free throws from it. He wasn’t particularly efficient with his offensive rebounds, but the sheer amount that the Bucks got paid off in the end and Portis was a driving factor behind it.

Even though his 3-point shooting hasn’t been there, Portis didn’t try to force up shots. He had a look in transition late in the game where Grant Williams had a fly-by contest, Portis sidestepped and then chose to pass to an open Jrue Holiday instead of shooting it with Al Horford running at him to close out.

Defensively it was a mixed bag until the fourth. Portis’ hedges weren’t great and Celtics ball handlers were able to get by him pretty easily but when the Bucks went to a switch-everything defense with Portis at the five in the final frame, he was much better.

On the possession that led to the Holiday open 3 from Portis passing up a semi-open look, Portis hedged high, contained Marcus Smart, forced him to drive middle, and into the Bucks’ defense where he turned it over.

If Portis can stay on the floor defensively and help the Bucks switch everything, it gives him so much more value even if he’s not hitting 3s. They’ve shown confidence in him throughout the playoffs and getting to close out Game 5 was another example.

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