Celtics vs. Bucks: Boston faces most significant moment of Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era after Game 5 collapse

 Celtics vs. Bucks: Boston faces most significant moment of Jayson Tatum-Jaylen Brown era after Game 5 collapse

The Boston Celtics will see the finish line. There is a 3-2 advantage if they can just keep their knowledge about them and stay on their feet. And then one stumbled. Then one, and the other, and suddenly, impossible, the Milwaukee Bucks beat them to the tape to steal control of the East semifinal series.

“We give it a go,” Jaylen Brown said. “That’s how we lost.”

Now, the action has moved back to Milwaukee for Game 6 and one of the most important moments of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown’s season.

The duo, who have been together since Tatum’s arrival in the 2017 draft, have already made several deep playoff runs together. There was a surprise trip to the Eastern Conference finals of Tatum’s rookie season in 2018, where they finally lost Game 7 at home to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They returned to the ECF in 2020 in the bubble, but weren’t completely healthy and couldn’t take care of business against the Miami Heat in a different environment.

Both losses were disappointing, but they felt like positive stepping stones for a young team at the time. The reins have not yet been fully given to Tatum and Brown, and at any given time the Celtics are likely to win the title if they make it to the Finals – certainly not in 2018 against the Golden State Warriors at the height of their power. , and probably not against the Lakers led by LeBron and Anthony Davis in 2020.

None of the warnings apply at this time. It’s a good and real team of Tatum and Brown, and it will be a huge disappointment when they bow out in the second round, even to the defending champions. The title race is very open right now, and there is a real opportunity for them to win it all. Tatum has established himself as one of the best players in the league, Brown is an All-Star, they’ve got some of the best basketball of Al Horford’s career and they have an elite defense that dominates sometimes in the playoffs.

The Celtics are favored to enter the series and look to be a better team without Khris Middleton. For the big pieces in the series they are already. They were already ahead in the final minutes in four of five games, and even though they were left with a 3-2 record, they lost to the Bucks, 522-508. They could, and really should, go to Milwaukee with a chance to end things and get back to the conference finals for the fourth time in six seasons. However, they have suffered one of the most tragic losses in the franchise’s recent history, and will face elimination down the road.

All that makes Game 6 attractive.

What was the response of Tatum, Brown and the Celtics? As Tatum quickly reminded everyone during his postgame press conference, “the series isn’t over yet.” The Celtics have won once in Milwaukee, and are more than capable of doing it again. But this group has never faced a test like this, and has never had to recover from a loss like this.

“The biggest challenge of the year,” Brown said. “Mentally, physically, emotionally, it poses a challenge on every side. So, we have to regroup and get our spirit to the point where we can get in and get a win in Milwaukee.”

Can they summon the determination, the focus, the mental strength needed to force a Game 7? Or is another opportunity lost? Questions like that are part of the playoffs, and now it’s Tatum and Brown’s turn to provide the answer.

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