There’s a fun little saying on NBA Twitter for certain players that play with irrational confidence that goes, “It’s [insert name] time.” On Wednesday night in a pivotal Game 5, it turned into Bobby Portis time. The Boston Celtics entered the final period with a nine-point lead and in control of the game and soon to be the series. Of course, Giannis Antetokounmpo was putting in another virtuoso performance, but the Bucks were going to need more to pull out this win.

Portis, demoted to the bench after the first two games in the series, has been struggling on defense and with his outside shot all series. However, the thing you can always count on with Portis is to bring energy. Milwaukee needed all of that energy throughout Portis’ minutes, as they have struggled to score in the halfcourt against Boston’s stellar defense. Not only did Portis collect a team-high 15 rebounds, but he also scooped up seven on the offensive glass allowing Milwaukee to extend multiple possessions.

The Pivotal Play

None were bigger than his offensive rebound on a missed Giannis free throw with 14.2 seconds left and the Bucks down by one. If Boston had collected the miss, they had a great chance to go up three and bleed the game out. Knowing Antetokounmpo is an average free throw shooter, everyone on the line was locked in for the potential miss.

Portis was on the right side of the lane, between Al Horford and Jaylen Brown. As the two Celtics went to pinch him, Portis used the strategy against his opponents, giving Brown a slight push so he could slip behind him and into the middle of the lane. At the same time, Wes Matthews shot past Grant Williams from the opposite side which allowed Matthews to box out Horford. It seems like the Bucks had a plan to swap sides and create an advantageous rebounding position for both of their players situated in the lane. Whether that was the plan or just something that happened, it gave the Bucks a shot to secure the board.

Bobby Portis rebound
It’s Bobby Portis Time. Portis collected the huge offensive board that helped put the Bucks ahead under 15 seconds.

A shot being the operative word. Marcus Smart was able to beat Jrue Holiday’s box out at the three-point line but was still far enough away that he had to lunge for the rebound. When he could only tip it up, Portis’s activity put him in the right position to grab the board and then make a putback bank shot that was challenged well by Brown and Jayson Tatum. Two points, Bucks lead.

Big Plays Throughout

If that had been his only big play in the fourth quarter, it would have been enough for a post. But Portis also collected three other offensive boards and collected a huge assist on Jrue Holiday’s game-tying three at 105 with 42.4 on the clock. This play was also indicative of the energy Portis brought, as he raced up the right wing to space the floor on the break before receiving the push-ahead pass from Giannis. Instead of firing up a rushed three, he gathered and found Holiday walking into a wide-open three. Tie game.

Portis still wasn’t able to find his stroke from the field shooting 4 for 14, though he was six for six from the free-throw line, including four big ones in the fourth. However, throw in a steal, and the activity he brought to the game helped the Bucks stay within striking distance and then complete their furious comeback. For that, we can truly say, “It was Bobby Portis time.”

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About Author

Ryan Rodriguez

If you want to hear my thoughts, check out my podcast, The Coastal Connection, which I do with some former coaching colleagues available on Spotify, Apple, and Google Podcasts. You can also check out my personal blog, The Thoughts of r2, if you want to read me on more topics than just NBA.

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