Can the Bucks clinch the championship tonight?
Phoenix Suns vs. Milwaukee Bucks – 9:00 pm ET (ABC) – Bucks lead 3-2
What a fun series this has been. After going down 2-0, the Bucks have stormed back to win the last three games, most recently picking up a thrilling 123-119 victory in Game 5.
The Suns got off to an ideal start, winning the first quarter 37-21. Chris Paul only had 11 points through the first three quarters, but finished with 21 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 11 assists after getting into more of a groove in the fourth. Devin Booker had another big game, going off for 40 points on 17-of-33 shooting by hitting a wide array of shots.
A lot of Suns offensive possessions have come down to a reliance on Booker to make tough shots off the bounce. And while he’s frequently done so at a highly impressive level (he’s scored at least 40 points in each of the last two games), it can be hard to keep up with the Bucks that way, especially if the offense slows down when Paul is the only main ball-handler. Milwaukee has covered shooters well and left any weaker assignments (like Torrey Craig) whenever possible to throw more help at Booker, limiting his passing reads in the process. Booker will probably need to play even more than the 41 minutes he did in Game 5 moving forward, but giving Paul more time with Cameron Payne could be one way to help the offense without Booker.
Even with Booker’s 40 and the team shooting a ridiculous 13-of-19 from three (68.4 percent!), the Suns couldn’t hang onto their lead. Both teams shot incredibly well and it was a hard-fought, mostly well-executed game all around, but the Bucks cut the lead down in a hurry after a 43-24 second quarter. Giannis Antetokounmpo continued to be a force with 32 points, Khris Middleton added 29-7-5, and Jrue Holiday was phenomenal. Holiday turned his performance around from earlier in the series, and in addition to playing stellar defense in Game 5, he added 27 points (12-of-20 shooting on a crafty mix of drives and jumpers, including three triples) and 13 assists. He did absolutely everything he needed to.
Then, in the last 20 seconds of the game, Holiday executed a perfectly timed double on Booker, ripped the ball away like it was nothing, and threw a pin-point alley-oop to Antetokounmpo to seal the game. It was an amazing play to cap off a great Finals game.
RELIVE THE MOMENT!
The live broadcast, the replays, and our #PhantomCam look at Jrue Holiday’s steal and lob to Giannis to help seal the @Bucks Game 5 win! #ThatsGame #NBAFinals presented by YouTube TV continues Tuesday at 9 PM ET on ABC pic.twitter.com/z9aE7007eN
— NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
So, can the Suns force a Game 7?