Jrue Holiday takes over the big stage in the final moments of the Bucks’ Game 3 victory over Celtics

One-on-one against one of the game’s stars, closing moments, game on the line in the playoffs?

It’s a script. It’s the dream.

Or, the “big stage” as Bobby Portis said prior to Game 3 between his Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics Saturday afternoon at Fiserv Forum.

Jrue Holiday not only took the center of that performance space, he owned it in the closing 11.2 seconds that gave the Bucks a 103-101 victory over the Celtics and a 2-1 series lead in the Eastern Conference semi-finals.

After Giannis Antetokounmpo put the Bucks up 101-100 with 44 seconds left, Holiday brought the ball up court after corralling an Antetokounmpo block of a Jaylen Brown layup.

As Holiday set up the halfcourt in front of him, Jayson Tatum settled in defensively. At 6 feet, 8 inches, Tatum had size on the 6-3 Bucks guard. He also is younger by seven years. The all-NBA Celtics star had also proven his defensive mettle against Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant.

This was it. No help was coming, for either player.

As the clock ticked down, Holiday began his final solo.

The two players were so in tune that Tatum’s right foot landed just a split second before Holiday’s, and as Holiday’s right foot came down on top of Tatum’s and immediately spun off it, it sent the Boston defender falling backward. Holiday’s right ankle buckled and he lost the ball initially – it bounded into the paint – but he was able to collect it and get up a right-handed floater over Al Horford.

“I made a move and Jayson fell or grabbed me – whichever one – but had the spin and nobody was there,” Holiday said. “I knew the time was running down and at that point you know you just have to; I mean you have to put it up on the rim but I had a pretty open shot, a pretty open floater.”

The ball hit off the iron, off the backboard and in, for a 103-100 Bucks lead with 11.2 seconds left.

“I think he’s just gotta keep kind of pounding and good things will happen and that’s what happened on the last possession,” Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer said. “We believe in him, he believes in himself and he keeps going, keeps trying and he got a great bounce, great roll.”

It was the last of Holiday’s 30 shots, a career playoff high. It was the last of his 11 made shots, tied for fifth-most in his playoff career. His 25 points were tied for No. 10 in his 24 career playoff appearances.

“I kind of felt like it was a little bit of the game plan,” Holiday said of his volume performance. “They mixed in some doubles but for the most part it was one-on-one. I felt like they didn’t want any three-point shots, which we didn’t have that many in the second game. But I felt like we also did our best to try to put up those threes and knock ‘em in. But, yeah, I felt that was part of the game plan.”

But this wouldn’t be a true Holiday story if it didn’t include defense, and the point guard was also square in the middle of the final act after his basket.

As the Celtics set up to tie the game, Holiday switched onto Boston guard Marcus Smart following a hard screen of George Hill by Brown. Smart angled into Holiday and the two collided.

A foul was called on Holiday, but not the kind the Celtics felt was warranted – as in two free throws as opposed to three.

“Marcus Smart tried to do the Durant sweep through thing and fortunate that it was two free throws, but we were not trying to foul him,” Budenholzer said.

“The intent was not to foul but I think I just jumped out a little bit too much,” added Holiday. “I felt like Marcus was still faced toward the sideline, so a little bit of luck, huh? Obviously we didn’t want a three and I kind of wanted to get up in him and kind of make him drive into the basket, but ended up overshooting.”

In the visiting press conference room down the hall, Celtics head coach Ime Udoka said “It was a foul. It was a foul. He caught the ball, he was turning into his shot, both feet set. You can’t say that’s a sweep like that going into your shot. So, poor call. Poor no-call.”

Udoka said the officials told him Smart was sweeping the ball but Udoka insisted it was a “bad missed call.”

Smart said he didn’t get an explanation and threw his hands up at the idea he was sweeping through the contact.

“Wouldn’t make sense to do a rip through move on the three-point line when you got a clear shot for three, down three,” he said.

Instead, it was two free throws for Smart who still gave his team a chance to tie it with a perfectly executed intentional miss on his second free throw – which included put-back attempts by him and Robert Williams III.

But it was the Bucks, and Holiday, who were able to walk off into the sunset with a standing ovation with no need for the encore of overtime.

“That’s my type of game, that’s how I like to play,” said Holiday. “It kind of shows the toughness out of people. It shows what you’re made of. I felt like ever since I’ve been playing in the playoffs and gotten to the point where these are big games and it’s going to be a mucked up game, I love it.

“Especially as a defender and somebody who during the playoffs gets away with a little bit more, it makes men out of boys. I really feel like coming down the stretch you see who’s really gonna take over or who is going to get a stop.

“It’s fun. It’s why we have playoff basketball.”

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