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Final Score: Bucks win 123-119, take 3-2 lead in Finals

The Bucks have the advantage after winning three straight in the series.

2021 NBA Finals - Milwaukee Bucks v Phoenix Suns Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

The Milwaukee Bucks just completely blasted the Phoenix Suns in the middle quarters to the tune of 75% shooting while they scored 78 points in 24 minutes. When the Suns regained any kind of footing, they were down 11 but at least 15 minutes of play remained.

The Suns were still down 10 points with 3 minutes left, but a flurry capped by Booker’s three pointer got the game back to 120-117 with just over a minute left.

Then Chris Paul cut it to 1 on the next possession, 120-119. After the Suns forced a miss by Jrue Holiday, Devin Booker drove the ball down and... Jrue Holiday stole the show again.

Booker made sure everyone knew he was going to take the shot, drove into traffic, got surrounded by three Bucks defenders and... got the ball stripped by Holiday, who flew down and fed Giannis for an and-one finish. They even got the offensive rebound on Giannis’ miss and made one of two free throws after that.

Bucks win, 123-119. Both teams shot the ball great, and both took 87 shots, but 9 more of the Bucks shots were threes and that was how they outscored the Suns in the end.

Booker finished with 40 points for the Suns. Chris Paul had 21 points and 11 assists and only 1 turnover. Deandre Ayton had 20 points and 10 rebounds. The Suns made 55% of their shots.

Giannis Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists. Kris Middleton made more crazy clutch shot after shot, finishing with 29 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists, while Jrue Holiday was excellent too with 27 points, 13 assists and 3 steals. The Bucks made 57% of their shots.

Devin Booker was +12 in 42 minutes in this one. They lost by 4. Meaning, the math says they were outscored by 16 in the 6 minutes that Booker rested.

The most important stat of all: the Bucks take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals, with home court coming back to them on Tuesday for Game 6.

The Suns season is on the brink, folks.

How it unfolded

Starting Lineups

First Half

Bucks got the opening tip and Jrue Holiday made a mid-range shot. On the other end, Devin Booker got a middy and missed short. Just the way the Bucks wanted it to go. On the first three possessions the Suns had two missed open shots (Booker) and committed a turnover.

But then the Suns broke through with an Ayton drive/free throws, Jae Crowder three, Ayton finish and then Booker drive and finish. Crowder later hit another three, followed by a steal/fastbreak ending in a Crowder dunk. The only hiccups were a Giannis second-chance middy, and a Khris Middleton three.

Suns up 14-9 with the crowd going wild! Six of these points are off turnovers and 3 on fast breaks. They only had 5 and 0, respectively, last game.

But that was just the start — the Suns blew it out to a 32-16 lead by absolutely forcing the issue on offense and defense. It was the Bucks this time who looked a step slow, and the Suns were all over them, shooting 80% from the field, 80% on threes and 5 steals already on the books in the first 9 minutes.

Suns up 32-16 for the second Bucks timeout. Also important to note, Jrue Holiday already has 2 fouls and backup Jeff Teague has one too.

The Suns achilles heel is still giving up offensive rebounds to the bigger, more determined Bucks. Even up 34-21, the Bucks had 3 offensive rebounds, but had only scored 2 points on them at least.

Suns up 37-21 after one. Booker leads 6 Suns scorers with 11 points, and also has 2 steals. Chris Paul had 4 assists.

The Suns lost a bit of momentum in the second quarter, settling for threes that stopped falling (1 for 5 in the first 2.5 minutes). Payne and Paul were playing together, with Crowder, Craig and Cameron Johnson. The Bucks went on a 7-0 run before CP hit a three. A pair of Bucks scores later, and the Suns lead had been cut to 40-32 — that’s an 11-3 Bucks run in 2.5 minutes. With Giannis on the bench.

Timeout, Monty.

Another 5-0 run makes it 16-3 run and the Bucks are within 3 before Ayton scores on a putback.

Make that a 10-2 run that ties the game at 42-42.

All this without Giannis in the game.

The Bucks aren’t going away. The Bucks took the lead — now a 29-12 run by making 11-for-17 shots, including 4 of 5 threes — before Giannis even came back in. Probably the best non-Giannis run of the Bucks lives, but I’m not actually sure.

The Suns starters clawed back a lead, 55-52, later in the quarter only after Devin Booker came back in to make sure they didn’t end up with any more empty possessions, though they were still only at 8 of 22 field goal attempts.

The Bucks were feeling it now, and the Suns had lost all momentum that they’d come out with. By the end of the quarter, they were 9 of 17 on threes for the game (6 of 9 that quarter) and had a three-point lead.

Bucks lead, 64-61 at half. Wow. That was a 43 point quarter for the Bucks and Giannis only had 4 of the points.

  • Bucks leaders: Jrue Holiday has 18 points, 7 assists and his usual physical defense on Chris Paul. Really great half for him. Giannis has 12/4/4 and Pat Connaughton has 9 and 4.
  • Suns leaders: Devin Booker with 15 points, Chris Paul 9 and 6 (no turnovers), Ayton with 12 and 4.
  • Each team has 5 offensive rebounds and Suns have 7 to 4 edge on turnovers
  • Suns shot 73% in the first quarter (Bucks 42%)
  • Bucks shot 71% in the second quarter (Suns 35%). Sheesh.

Second Half

Welp. Let’s just say the Bucks came out playing well in the second half. They made 9 of 12 shots, and took a 10-point lead with a 21-14 run in just over six minutes. The only reason it wasn’t worse is that Devin Booker was mostly matching their shotmaking.

The Bucks were using Giannis as a decoy almost the whole game — he only had 14 of the 85 points at this point. Kris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 43 on 19-30 shooting to this point. NINETEEN OF THIRTY SHOOTING.

The next two Bucks possessions — Ayton blocks a Middleton three, but it ends up in Giannis hands for a middy. Right after Connaughton hit his 4th three in 6 tries on the possession before. And then Giannis follows it up with a fallback 20-footer that hit no rim.

Uhhh, come on Suns.

I actually am surprised the Suns are ONLY down 11 right now, with 3:09 left in the third quarter.

The Suns ended the third quarter down 10 points, 100-90.

  • The Bucks are just doing everything right, and it looks like the Suns don’t have any answers out there on offense or defense.
  • Jrue Holiday has been incredible with 25 points (11 of 15 shooting) and 11 assists and still his physical defense on Booker and Paul, whoever is bringing the ball across the timeline.
  • Devin Booker is the Suns best player in this one, scoring 29 at this point. Deandre Ayton has 18. No one else has more than 11 (Chris Paul).
  • The Suns only have 17 assists on 37 made field goals.

Fourth Quarter

Ouch. The Bucks are still not missing shots. Just brutal.

The Suns are keeping close, down only 8 with 5:44 when they review a play where the ref on the court called a defensive shooting foul on Ayton but it looks like not only a hook by Giannis but also a step out of bounds. Yet, the refs still left the call alone (Suns challenge gone now), but at least the Bucks missed the next shot.

On the next possession, the Suns cut the lead back to 6 on a little Paul middy, but Giannis got put on the line again at the other end. Make. Miss.

But then Book missed a middy and Middleton made a three-point play and the Bucks went back up 10.

The Suns weren’t quite done yet. Paul made a three, and then Ayton got a pair of free throws to but the Bucks lead to 5 with 2:43 left.

But then Middleton hit a step-back three, Booker answered with a two.

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