Giannis Antetokounmpo made Game 7 a reality for the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday night.
After taking only 10 shots in a Game 5 loss on Tuesday night, Antetokounmpo knew he had to be more aggressive and assertive in finding ways to lift his team’s offense — so that’s exactly when it mattered most late in a 97-86 victory over the Boston Celtics. The 23-year-old superstar finished with 31 points, 14 rebounds and 4 assists, carrying his team down the stretch. The visceral performance helped even up the series at 3-3 and forced a winner-take-all Game 7 in Boston on Saturday night.
As the game came to a close, Bucks fans gave their team a rousing standing ovation, chanting “Bucks in 7!” as the final horn sounded in what could be the final game played at the Bradley Center. If the Bucks want to keep their current home open for a couple of more weeks, they must find a way to win at TD Garden — something they have yet to do in this series. Does Antetokounmpo have another monster night left in what has been a grueling series for both teams? The Bucks certainly believe he does as they walk into the most important game of their season knowing that the best player on the floor wears Milwaukee cream and green.
Detroit and Pittsburgh will make up the game with a straight doubleheader on Wednesday starting at 4:05 p.m.
This is the second time the teams will play a doubleheader this season and the third time they’ve had to reschedule due to weather. Wintry conditions pushed back Opening Day at Comerica Park on March 29 and their game on March 31 was also postponed. Pittsburgh swept a doubleheader from the Tigers on April 1. Detroit also had two games against the New York Yankees wiped out earlier this month.
Pittsburgh will send out Jameson Taillon (2-1, 2.86) in Game 1 against Detroit’s Jordan Zimmermann (1-0, 7.71). Chad Kuhl (2-1, 4.57), who had been scheduled to start on Tuesday and was originally slated to take the hill for the opener of the doubleheader, will face Matthew Boyd (0-1, 1.40) in the nightcap.
The Pirates have dropped six of seven following a hot start, while the Tigers have won five of seven.
Pittsburgh’s offense has cooled off during its current slide and manager Clint Hurdle believes his team’s struggles are part of a somewhat larger trend, one the weather is impacting. There could be more strikeouts than hits across the majors in a month for the first time, and Hurdle pointed to frigid temperatures as an issue.
“This has been the most challenging weather I’ve ever been a part of, and I’m not playing,” said Hurdle, who spent a decade in the majors as a player from 1977 to ’87 before going into coaching. “It’s hard to hit when it’s cold.”