Midway through Wednesday night's critical Game 5 in Boston, things weren't looking good for the Bucks. Heck, things weren't looking good for Milwaukee 80 percent of the way through the game either. But as we learned during last year's fantastical run to the Finals, it's not always pretty but the Bucks find a way – and that's exactly what they did, coming back from behind to beat the Celtics, 110-107, and take a 3-2 series lead, putting them a single win away from a return to the Eastern Conference Finals.
While fans are already looking ahead to a potential #BucksInSix at Fiserv Forum on Friday, until then, let's take one final look back to Milwaukee's miraculous Game 5 and keep replaying those two final Jrue Holiday plays on repeat.
1. The fabulous Freak
The headlines and hubbub from Wednesday night's big win deservedly belong to Jrue Holiday and his incredible clutch defense – but let's not forget the best player in the NBA. With Khris Middleton out, the Bucks demanded that Giannis put this team on his back – and he did exactly that Wednesday evening, scoring a remarkable 40 points (including not one but two clutch threes that everyone hated in the moment until they went in) to go along with 11 rebounds. And this is what it looks like when a team manages to "stifle" him.
The Denver Nuggets' Nikola Jokic may have been named the season's MVP last night, but Giannis made it clear on the court who truly rules the NBA.
2. So close yet so far
For the second time in the series, the Celtics were just a fingertip away from a big moment with Derrick White just missing out on this last-second layup that could've sent Boston into halftime with even more momentum and even more of a lead. I'm sure they would've loved those two points considering how close things got near the end.
3. Let's see how far we've come
It's easy to forget just how dire things looked for the Bucks on Wednesday night. With a little more than ten minutes left in the game – a game where Milwaukee was generally scuffling, getting close but always falling further back – the Bucks were down 14. And when Payton Pritchard is getting junk like this to do down? Well, I guess there's always Game 6 ...
4. Blood, sweat and Boston tears
Even with all of the flopping, this series has been a true slobberknocker with both teams playing relentlessly hard on both ends of the court. Case in point: Thanks to an inadvertent elbow from Pat Connaughton, Giannis was literally bleeding to beat Boston, playing through a brutal gash above his eye throughout the final few minutes. For critics who say the current NBA is soft, this Bucks/Celtics series has been an incredible five-game retort – with at least one more game of evidence to come.
5. There is your dagger?
For the second time in two games, it sure seemed like Al Horford would single-handedly beat the Bucks, scoring this massive slam, waking up the Boston crowd and putting the Celtics up six with just over two minutes left in the game. It seemed like the potential devastating dagger; instead it's a forgotten footnote of a moment, another steal on the night for Jrue Holiday swiping the spotlight from the Boston big man.
6. Bobby Bifocals is back
The Mayor of Milwaukee's had a strange few games against the Celtics. Last game, the Bucks sparkplug looked oddly muted, passing up shots and looking timid overall. And even Wednesday night, he had that botched wide-open layup near the end of the game where he missed EVERYTHING. But no one remembers any of that now because Portis snagged that essential Giannis missed free throw and bullied his way to the bucket to give the Bucks a lead they wouldn't give back. With Middleton still stuck on the bench injured, Milwaukee demands role players showing up – and with 14 points, 15 rebounds and this clutch moment, Bobby finally did Wednesday night. Four more years for the Mayor of Milwaukee!
7. Jrue redemption
For much of Wednesday night, Jrue Bledsoe was arguably on the court. In a game where the Bucks needed their second star to show up on offense, Holiday was instead a problem, getting lost in the lane and chucking up low-quality shots.
And then Jrue Holiday showed up and showed out, hitting massive shots – totalling 24 points on 9-for-24 shooting – to help the Bucks get back into the game. But most notably, Holiday made this absolutely remarkable clutch defensive play, not only hopping in to block Marcus Smart's drive but then recovering the ball and throwing it off Smart to maintain possession for the Bucks. Smart, the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year, ended up part of the greatest defensive highlight of the year – just on the wrong end of it. And worst of all for him, it wouldn't be the last time ...
8. Swiper, go swiping!
It's utterly wild that Jrue Holiday, the conductor of the Valley Oop in the Finals, pulled off yet another one of the most iconic steals in NBA history last night ... and it was somehow only his SECOND most impressive defensive play of the game. Not only did the steal help ease any Bucks fans' tensions in the final few seconds, but Marcus Smart now legally has to hand his Defensive Player of the Year award over to Jrue Holiday. Two wins!
9. That smarts
Bucks 3, Celtics 2, Internet undefeated.
10. Deer District roars back to life
Thanks to the combination of ugly weather and an even uglier first-round opponent, Deer District started the playoffs unfortunately in hibernation. But with the stakes raised in the second round – and the weather no longer looking 35 degrees and gray – Milwaukee's iconic fan gathering space has roared back to life, especially after last night's remarkable game-winning recovery. The Milwaukee mantra – #BucksInSix – is echoing once again throughout Downtown and will only get louder Friday night.
And who are we to argue with an adorable corgi? We'll see if Nostradogmus is proven correct on Friday night when the Bucks try to finish this thing off at Fiserv Forum. It's been a series for the ages – hopefully it comes with a fitting ending.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.