NBA: Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks

Celtics guard Jaylen Brown hangs his head while walking to the bench during the fourth quarter of Boston’s 117-113 loss Saturday in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE — It didn’t look like it mattered much as the shorthanded Celtics kept putting up points on the Bucks for most of the game. The C’s were down multiple players, but they just kept plugging away.

But the Celtics ran out of steam and depth as the game crept to a close — and their porous late-game offense returned. While the Celtics showed plenty of spirited play, they fell in the final seconds as they lost 117-113 to the Bucks on Saturday at Fiserv Forum.

When the Celtics sprinted ahead to their 15-point halftime lead, it appeared as if it was built on borrowed time. The Bucks stormed back in the third, scoring 42 points, as they looked like the reigning NBA champions. But the Celtics had plenty of juice left for much of the fourth quarter.

The late-game offensive execution, though, was lacking as the Bucks went on a huge 21-4 run to close the game.

Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 25 points and nine rebounds. Jaylen Brown also had 25 points, though he cooled somewhat after a hot first quarter. Marcus Smart was crucial as he played 40 minutes and added 19 points and seven assists. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 36 points and 11 rebounds in his return after a five-game absence.

The Celtics had 12 players available Saturday, though Boston coach Ime Udoka rolled with an eight-man rotation for most of the game. The other four players were one two-way contract in Brodric Thomas along with three 10-day contract guys.

Boston had a whopping 10 players out, with nine C’s in health and safety protocols, and Al Horford, who was out because of reconditioning.