In the past, the team who wins the fifth game of a series that is tied at 2-all has had a lot of success, especially if the victory was achieved on the road. Milwaukee is in this situation after coming back on Saturday night, with the franchise a win away from its first NBA title in 50 years. Here’s a look back at Game 5 as well as some other significant NBA events.
With the NBA Finals deadlocked at two games apiece, it didn’t take a genius to see how crucial Game 5 between the Bucks and Suns would be on Saturday.
Phoenix got out to a big lead early, but their failure to keep it in the second quarter lost them the game. Milwaukee eventually triumphed by a score of four, with its three stars doing much of the heavy work.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (32/9/6), Khris Middleton (29/7/5 with three 3-pointers) and Jrue Holiday (27/4/13/3/1 with three 3-pointers) all took at least 20 field goals on the night, with each shooting better than 50% from the field.
Antetokounmpo made 14-of-23 field goals, while Middleton made 12-of-23 and Holiday made 12-of-20. Holiday’s night was especially pleasant after he went 4-of-20 from the field in Milwaukee’s Game 4 win on Wednesday.
That being said, Holiday has been a consistent defensively throughout this series, even if his offense has been a bit sporadic. The veteran guard made the game’s greatest play with the support of his teammates, who collapsed on a driving Devin Booker in the final seconds.
Holiday’s steal led to a 2-on-1 break, and he and Antetokounmpo combined for an alley-oop that gave the Bucks a three-point lead. Chris Paul fouled Antetokounmpo on the dunk, which was a terrible choice by the veteran point guard.
Let Antetokounmpo to finish, and Phoenix will reclaim a three-point lead. The Suns would have been able to advance the ball if they had a timeout in their back pocket.
Despite Giannis’ difficulties at the foul line (he went 4-of-11 on Saturday night), the foul substantially reduced the Suns’ chances of getting the ball back.
Phoenix was unable to keep possession of the ball, which was tipped back to Middleton. He made one of two free throws from the line, thereby sealing the game’s fate.
Reserves Pat Connaughton (14 points, six rebounds, and four 3-pointers) and Bobby Portis (9/3/0/2 with two 3-pointers), who played 33 and 19 minutes, respectively, were also key contributors for Milwaukee.
Similar splits are expected Tuesday night when the Bucks attempt to capture their first championship since 1971.
Monty Williams likely waited too long to reinsert his star guard during the second quarter, as Booker (40/4/3/2/1 with two 3-pointers) had another monster offensive night.
The Suns had a 16-point lead at the start of the fourth quarter (37-21), but it had shrunk to three points by the time Booker returned with 6:14 left.
It wouldn’t be surprising if Booker played more than 45 minutes in Game 6, as Phoenix has to win to keep the series alive.
Paul (21/2/11/0/1 with three 3-pointers) went 9-of-15 from the field with only one turnover after a disappointing Game 4 performance. But, in terms of CP3, the game-deciding moment detailed above is likely what people will remember from Game 5.
Deandre Ayton (20/10/1/1/2) won his middle matchup for the second straight game, while Mikal Bridges (13/4/1/2/1 with three 3-pointers) and Jae Crowder (10/5/3/2 with two 3-pointers) both had good nights.
Cam Payne (six points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals) and Cameron Johnson (six points, four rebounds, four assists, and two steals) each played 22 minutes, although Johnson had a team-worst minus-19. If the Suns want to extend the series, that can’t happen Tuesday night.