Tied at 2-2 in the NBA Finals, Game 5 in Arizona always looked likely to be a crucial game in the series and it could well prove to be that way after the Milwaukee Bucks ended a run of four wins for the home court team with a 123-119 win over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday.
In what was yet another outstanding and evenly-contested encounter between the two teams, the Bucks came from a 16-point deficit in the first quarter to take a massive step towards their second ever NBA Championship.
They now can win the NBA Finals on Tuesday evening in Game Six in front of their home crowd in Milwaukee.
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Booker 40-Point Game Not Enough
Devin Booker had another outstanding night for the Suns, netting 40 points for the second game in succession. Chris Paul (21 pts) and Deandre Ayton (20 pts) also scored well for the Suns.
So often in this series it has been upon Giannis Antetokounmpo to drag the Bucks into contention, but on Saturday, the Greek Freak was well supported by Jrue Holiday (27 pts, 13 assists) and Khris Middleton (29 points) adding to his 32-point haul.
It truly was a game that ebbed and flowed in dramatic fashion, starting with the Suns opening up a 16-point lead in the first quarter.
The @Suns are on FIRE! 🔥🔥🔥
— NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
The Bucks must have feared another Phoenix defeat, but unlike in the two opening games, they bounced back strongly in the second quarter, not just closing the deficit but actually taking the lead by three at the half.
They then extended that lead to ten points at the end of the third quarter but back came the Suns and with just under 20 seconds to go, the Bucks led by just one, 120-119.
Holiday Makes Crucial Play
Unsurprisingly, the Suns went to Devin Booker again but as he closed on the basket, the Suns closed him off and he turned away, only to find Jrue Holiday ready to snatch the ball from his grasp.
Holiday ran down the court, seemingly initially trying to run out time, but he saw Giannis making strides towards the basket and launched the ball to the Greek Freak who sank the alley-oop for two, drawing a foul as he did so.
— NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
After converting that crucial free throw, the Bucks led by four and the game was effectively over.
The series though may well not be,.
If the Bucks do go on to win their first NBA Championship then Holiday’s steal will rank alongside Giannis’ block in Game 4 as the moments that swung this indescribably close series in their favor.
Game Six NBA Finals Odds – Can The Bucks Clinch?
BetRivers Sportsbook has the Bucks the -5 favourites on the spread to land the win they need to clinch only their second NBA Championship. They are a short -210 on the moneyline to claim the win they need, while the Suns are rated a +170 chance.
However, given how this series has ebbed and flowed, often within each game, it is hard to say that the Suns are that much the underdog here.
This is a team that had a better record than the Bucks heading into the Playoffs and who have performed more consistently throughout the playoffs, up until the last three games.
Something tells me that Tuesday night is going to be dramatic and there are going to be plenty of twists and turns in this game.
This series has been so good, it perhaps does deserve the drama of a Game Seven decider, but I am not sure we will get it as I am expecting the Bucks to clinch it in a close one on Tuesday in front of their home fans.
That is where my money is going, but I would not be at all surprised if Phoenix can pull this one out of the fire.