The Milwaukee Bucks hope to close out Game 6 with a victory and win their first NBA crown since 1971. The Bucks took a 3-2 lead in the series against the Suns after upsetting the Suns 123-119 on Saturday night from Phoenix.
Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way with 32 points, nine rebounds and six assists, while Khris Middleton added 29 points and seven boards. But it was Jrue Holiday's steal of Devin Booker in the closing seconds and subsequent alley-oop pass to Antetokounmpo allowed Milwaukee to stave off an incredible comeback by the Suns.
Is this it for CP3?If the Suns can't win Game 6, most people will talk about Chris Paul and his inability to win a title. Charles Barkley, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Karl Malone, and Allen Iverson were just one of a handful of greats to never win an NBA championship. Paul didn't play poorly in Game 5, scoring 21 points and dishing out 11 assists (9-of-15 shooting). The Suns got very little production from their bench, who tallied just 15 points. That might have been the first time the Suns really missed forward Dario Saric, who blew out his ACL in Game 1. Saric provided size (6-10, 225) and versatility, though he had struggled in the playoffs, averaging just 4.5 points per game.
"We knew this wasn’t going to be easy," said Paul on brighsideofthesun.com. "We didn’t expect it to be. It’s hard. (Phoenix Suns) coach (Monty Williams) said it all year long, ‘Everything we want is on the other side of hard,’ and it don’t get no harder than this. So, we got to regroup, learn from this game, but it’s over. We got to get ready for Game 6.”
One player who has been spectacular the last two games has been Devin Booker, who had 82 combined points in Games 4 and 5. But what they do need from him is a few more assists (he had five in Game 2 and six in Game 3). The Suns have other wings that can score in Jae Crowder and Mikal Bridges. DeAndre Ayton (20pts, 10 rebs. in Game 5) has shown that he is very close to becoming an elite big man. Going inside more to Dayton and forcing Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis to play more defense would allow Booker and Paul to do a few more things on the perimeter.
The Suns were a top-10 defense this season, but they allowed Milwaukee to shoot 57% and 14-of-28 from beyond the arc on their home floor. If they allow the Bucks to shoot over 50% from the floor and the three-point line again, the Suns will be heading to the golf course (and Tokyo).
Put a ring on itMilwaukee started the series out down 0-2 and then won two games by 20 and six points respectively. Antetokounmpo has been the steadying force, averaging 32.2 points,5.6 assists and 13 rebounds per contest. But it was Middleton's long-range shooting and Holiday's defense that has been the difference. You know what you're going to get from the "Greek Freak", but Middleton has 11 points in Game 2 and five turnovers in Game 1. Holiday's shooting has been more erratic, but his defense on Paul and Booker has been spectacular at times.
The 31-year old Holiday has been a very good NBA player for seven seasons in New Orleans, where was in relative obscurity. But Holiday, who shot a career-high 50.3% from the field this season, didn't need to just score for Milwaukee to make them successful. He needed to make open shots (39.2% 3pt) and ended up shooting his highest three-point shooting percentage of his career. He was the perfect replacement for Eric Bledsoe, who went to the Pelicans and ended up with the worst season since his early days with the Clippers. If the Bucks win the title, the trade of Holiday for Bledsoe, George Hill and three future first-round picks to New Orleans in mid-November will be the move that was instrumental.
- 4-0 ATS last 4 home games.
- 5-1 ATS last 6 as a favorite.
- 1-6 ATS last 7 playing on 2 days rest.