Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps the ball away from the Celtics' Jayson Tatum during the second half of game three of their second-round NBA play-off series. Picture: Michael Dwyer/AP
Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo keeps the ball away from the Celtics' Jayson Tatum during the second half of game three of their second-round NBA play-off series. Picture: Michael Dwyer/AP

Bucks beat Celtics in Boston for 2-1 lead in NBA semis

GIANNIS Antetokounmpo has led the Milwaukee Bucks to a dominant win over the Boston Celtics to take the lead in their NBA Eastern Conference semi-final series.

The Bucks won 123-116 in front of a shell-shocked Boston TD Garden arena crowd on Friday (Saturday AEST) to take a 2-1 series lead.

Milwaukee took control in the third quarter, headed into the final period up 95-87, and extended the lead to 15 points with four minutes to go before Boston fought back to cut the deficit to single digits in the final 90 seconds.

NBA MVP candidate Antetokounmpo was spectacular in scoring 32 points, connecting with eight of 13 field goals, and grabbing 13 rebounds, eight assists, three blocks and two steals.

"We definitely have a lot of momentum, but we have to keep playing good basketball and keep defending," Antetokounmpo said.

"In game four they are definitely going to play harder but we have to be the one that hits first."

Game four of the best-of-seven series is in Boston on Tuesday (AEST).

The Bucks, the NBA's top seed, were also helped by Khris Middleton's 20 points, and 21 off the bench from George Hill.

The Celtics' Australian big man, Aron Baynes, who has struggled with multiple injuries throughout the season, played just two minutes and failed to score or get a rebound.

Celtics coach Brad Stevens went with back-up forward Semi Ojeleye to help starters Al Horford and Marcus Morris attempt to combat Antetokounmpo, but they had little success.

Boston All-Star Kyrie Irving had 29 points but missed 14 of 22 field goals and six of eight three-pointers.

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