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  • Giannis Antetokounmpo was criticized after Game 5 of Milwaukee’s Eastern Conference series against Boston for not doing more Derek Watt Jersey , particularly on the offensive end.

    The harshest critic: Antetokounmpo, himself.

    He took only 10 field-goal attempts, his third-lowest total of the entire season. Antetokounmpo still had a brilliant stat line, finishing only one assist shy of a triple-double, but the Bucks lost 92-87 and now go back to Milwaukee trailing the first-round matchup 3-2.

    Game 6 of the Celtics-Bucks series is the lone matchup on the Thursday night NBA schedule.

    ”Game 6, I’ve got to come out and be more aggressive,” Antetokounmpo said. ”It’s on me. I had open shots, but they weren’t my shots so I didn’t feel comfortable taking them. … I’ve got to be more aggressive, make more plays because definitely, my teammates need me.”

    It’s not like he was choosing to not be involved.

    The Celtics got Marcus Smart back for Game 5, and Boston is much better defensively when he’s on the floor. Open looks seem to happen far more infrequently when Smart is out there, and the Bucks must solve that riddle or else their season is about to end.

    Smart wasn’t the only defensive hero for Boston in Game 5. The Celtics put Semi Ojeleye on Antetokounmpko, and it worked as well as Boston could have hoped.

    ”Giannis is a heck of a player,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. ”You’re not going to be perfect against him. You’re not going to hold him down by any means. He makes plays for other people Phillip Dorsett Jersey , he’s very unselfish … but we just felt like we needed a little bit more ball pressure overall, and so that was the decision to go smaller.”

    If Antetokounmpko doesn’t come up bigger Thursday, it’ll be Boston going to the second round.

    Here’s some of what to know going into Game 6:

    CELTICS AT BUCKS

    Boston leads 3-2. Game 6, 8 p.m. EDT, TNT

    NEED TO KNOW: Since 2002, there have been 29 NBA teams with at least one postseason series win to their credit. The lone exception: The Bucks. It’s been 17 years since the Bucks advanced to the second round, and the Celtics are on the cusp of adding another year to Milwaukee’s wait. So far in the series, Milwaukee has outscored Boston 520-519 – which would indicate that it’s been a super-close matchup. That’s not the reality. There have been wild ebbs and flows, with one team leading by 16 points at some point in each of the last four games.

    KEEP AN EYE ON: Free throws. Boston is 99 for 130 in the series from the line, while Milwaukee is 68 for 100. The Bucks have been called for 30 more fouls in the series, 124-94 – which works out to six more per game.

    PRESSURE IS ON: Clearly, the Bucks. They’re facing elimination, of course, so there’s the pressure. Antetokounmpko was on the Milwaukee team that won two elimination games against Chicago in 2015 (before the Bucks eventually lost that series in six games). And he also remembers the sting of last season Garrett Grayson Jersey , when the Bucks went home for Game 6 trailing Toronto 3-2 and wound up letting a pair of late leads slip in what became a season-ending loss.

    INJURY UPDATE: Getting Smart back was a rare bit of good news for Boston in this injury-marred season, one where the Celtics have been without Gordon Hayward since opening night and ultimately lost Kyrie Irving for the playoffs. Smart hadn’t played in about six weeks after tearing a ligament in his right thumb, but was a clear difference-maker for the Celtics in Game 5.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning understand what it takes to be successful in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

    And as the Vegas Golden Knights are also showing, the winning formula can vary from game to game and series to series.

    Dominant defense is part of the equation. So is timely and opportunistic offense. Mental toughness is a prerequisite. It pays to be resilient, too.

    ”I just think any time you’re winning games, you’re battling through something,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said.

    ”Maybe a better way to put it is you’re making a big play at the right time,” Cooper added. ”It seems teams that move on often are doing that, and teams that don’t miss out on opportunities.”

    The Lightning’s latest victory has them one away from the team’s third trip to the Eastern Conference final in four years, a step they can take by beating the Boston on Sunday (3 p.m. ET, NBC) at home in Game 5 of their best-of-seven semifinal.

    The Golden Knights, meanwhile, lead their second-round series against the San Jose Sharks 3-2 and can secure a spot in the Western Conference final by winning Game 6 on the road Sunday night (7:30 p.m., NBCSN).

    ”I’d be the first one to tell you we’ve accomplished nothing Doug Baldwin Jersey ,” Cooper said. ”We’ve won a couple of games in this series. You’ve got to win four, not three.”

    Tampa Bay’s Alex Killorn, who had the primary assist on Dan Girardi’s overtime goal that pushed the Bruins to the brink of elimination in Game 4, said there’s a sense of urgency to end the series and avoid a return trip to Boston.

    ”I think it has to looked at that way,” Killorn said. ”That’s a great team. You go back to Boston, you give them a chance to get back in the series, you never know what will happen.”

    CONTROL YOUR TONGUE

    Bruins winger Brad Marchand has been given an edict by the NHL: Stop licking opponents or you’ll be punished.

    The league announced Saturday that Marchand had been put ”on notice” after licking Lightning forward Ryan Callahan in the face during Game 4 on Friday night. Marchand appeared to lick Toronto’s Leo Komarov in the first round, too.

    Senior vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell spoke to Marchand and Boston general manager Don Sweeney on Saturday about the latest incident. The league said it was made clear to Marchand that his actions were unacceptable and he will face supplemental discipline if it happens again.

    Marchand, whose 17 points are second on the Bruins and fourth among all players in the playoffs, could face a fine or suspension if he licks another opponent.

    ”It’s unfortunate that he goes that low to do that, but (it) doesn’t take us off our game. We keep going, and we’ll let the refs handle that,” Callahan said. ”Like I said, I’m just surprised that something isn’t done because I don’t know what’s the difference between spitting in someone’s face and licking it.”

    ONE STEP AWAY

    As tempting as it may to be think about how close the Golden Knights are to reaching the Westeren Conference final Vic Beasley Jersey , goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said the team’s mind-set is much the same as it’s been all season.

    ”I think we had this mentality all year long: it’s all about the next game,” the three-time Stanley Cup champion said. ”That’s where the focus has to be. Just rest, relax and eat well. Get ready for the next one.”

    NOT THE FIRST TIME

    Vegas can become the third team in NHL history to win multiple series in its inaugural season. The league’s first-ever postseason saw the Toronto Arenas win the 1918 NHL Final against the Montreal Canadiens before defeating the Pacific Coast Hockey Association’s Vancouver Millionaires to win the Stanley Cup. In 1968, the St. Louis Blues defeated the Philadelphia Flyers and Minnesota North Stars to emerge from the all-expansion West Division to advance to the Stanley Cup Final.

    DESPERATION TIME

    Boston trails the Lightning 3-1 and needs to win three straight to take the series – not impossible considering the Bruins won three of four meetings between the teams during the regular season.

    ”I’s far from over,” Marchand said. ”We’ve been on both sides of it, so you know, we’re just going to regroup and get ready for the next one.”

    Forward Patrice Bergeron said the Bruins will have to play ”desperate hockey” to force the series back to Boston for Game 6.

    ”We’ve shown character all year. … I’ve spoke about that, about the resilience in this room,” Bergeron said, ”so it’s time to show it.”

    AP Sports Writers Jimmy Golen in Boston, Stephen Whyno in Washington, and freelance writer W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed to this report.

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