The 2021 NBA Finals head back to Phoenix tied at 2-2 and our NBA picks continue to bring the heat. We have broken down every aspect of Milwaukee’s Game Four win and what is going to happen for this must-win Game Five!
Can the Bucks keep their momentum going, win a third straight and take a 3-2 series lead back to Milwaukee? Will Phoenix show some life and return to their winning ways on their home floor?
Our NBA picks break it down for you and give you everything you need to know before placing your bets on this clash – Game Five on the NBA Finals.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Phoenix Suns (Game 5) – 9pm EDT
A come-from-behind win has allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to maintain momentum and tie the series up, heading back to The Valley for Game Five. The Phoenix Suns led for most of Game Four but Devin Booker’s foul trouble, Jrue Holiday’s defense and Phoenix’s inability to defend down the stretch gave the Bucks the 109-103 win.
In the final 3:40, Milwaukee went on a 17-8 run to take control of the game, win by six points and cover the spread. This was an incredible meltdown by the Suns, who restricted Milwaukee to just 20 and 24 points in the first and third quarters, but allowed them to score 17 in less than four minutes to close out the game.
Khris Middleton scored 10 of those points, finishing with a playoff career high 40 points, along with six rebounds, four assists and two steals. His play, especially down the stretch, was incredible, putting the Bucks in front and keeping them there. He was one of five Bucks to finish in double figures for the game, marking the second straight game this has happened, both wins.
Giannis Antetokounmpo’s stats in the NBA Finals through 4 games:
Giannis has the highest +/- in the Finals at +27 and has been by far the best defender pic.twitter.com/Hs8Jf2oxAe
— GiannisTape (@giannisstape) July 16, 2021
He had plenty of help, especially from Giannis Antetokounmpo. While he didn’t clear his points line, he still finished with 26 points, 14 boards, eight assists, three steals and two blocks, with both blocks coming in the last 3:40 of the game. Jrue Holiday, despite shooting a miserable 4-20 from the field, was exceptional for the Bucks. He finished with 13 points, seven boards, seven assists and three steals, but his impact goes further than his own stats.
Holiday has earnt his bread for being the main defender for Chris Paul, who had his worst game of the postseason, on the biggest stage as well. Paul committed five or more turnovers in just five games during the regular season, but the five he had on Wednesday night was the second time he has done so in the last three games. The 15 turnovers he has had over the last three is the most he has had over a three game stretch since 2012…
Paul finished with 10 points on 5-13 shooting, adding seven assists compared to the five turnovers, struggling to control the game like he usually does. This had a ripple effect, impacting Deandre Ayton’s performance as well. Ayton had his worst scoring game of the postseason, finishing with just six points and being unable to get easy looks due to Paul not being his usual, play-making self. While Ayton had a massive 17 rebounds, just one of them came on the offensive end and he shot 3-9 from the field, just his second time below 50% for the postseason.
The struggling performances didn’t stop there for Phoenix. Mikal Bridges, who scored 14 and 27 points in the first two games, only managed to contribute 11 points across the two losses in Milwaukee. Combine that with the fact that he was the primary defender on Middleton, who had 40, and Bridges definitely needs to lift his game heading into what is now a best of three game series.
The Suns’ starters in Game 4:
Devin Booker – 42
Everyone else – 38 pic.twitter.com/XvRsn9bKOg
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) July 15, 2021
All of this miserable play and the Suns only lost by six and led for most of the game. Step in Devin Booker. After putting up just 10 points in Game Three and being benched for the last quarter-and-a-bit, Booker came out aggressively in Game Four, setting the tone for his side. 17-28 shooting allowed the guard to score a game-high 42 points, his third 40+ point game of the postseason.
The Bucks won’t just drop down easily because the game is in Phoenix as they are playing with their tails up at the moment, but can we trust Middleton to put up another performance like that to drag them over the line? Giannis looked like his usual-self again, not the Shaq-version he was in Games 2 & 3, and Ayton, despite scoring poorly, stayed on the floor and out of foul trouble. On the other hand, Booker struggled with foul trouble and if he hadn’t, who knows what Phoenix could have done.
While Milwaukee has momentum after levelling the series, Phoenix really should be up 3-1. They will be kicking themselves for throwing away the win, and the series lead, on Wednesday. For them to play as poorly as they did and control the game for 80% of it, there are plenty of positives to take back home for a vital Game Five clash.
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.
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