Bucks 62-59 Suns, end of the first half
Booker misses on his end. Middleton finds Giannis for an alley-oop for Milwaukee. They have a foul to give, Tucker picks up his third in what feels like a puzzling decision on their part. In the end, Paul makes a layup… but doesn’t get a foul call. The Bucks somehow have a three point lead to go into the half.
Bucks 62-59 Suns, 52.0, 2nd quarter
Giannis is back on the line and here comes the counting and the Money Man in the audience. This time, Giannis isn’t rattled: he hits both to extend the Bucks lead.
Bucks 60-59 Suns, 1:27, 2nd quarter
Cam Payne gives the Phoenix fans some pleasure with a shot that very briefly ties the game but, because this is Game 5 we’re talking about, Holiday’s jumper immediately ties things up.
Ayton dunks for Phoenix and Holiday responds and then some with a three-pointer! Bucks back up by one!
Bucks 55-55 Suns, 2:35, 2nd quarter
Some great ball movement leads to a wide-open Tucker who ties things up with a three.
Bucks 52-55 Suns, 3:26, 2nd quarter
Giannis picks up his first foul, which could be something later on, but the Suns can’t score. Connaughton misses a three-pointer, it feels like for the first time this game, so we finally have a scoring drought here… until Booker drives his way to the baskets for a layup and Milwaukee calls a timeout. That’s 15 points for Booker, having another red-hot game it seems.
Bucks 52-53 Suns, 4:08, 2nd quarter
Giannis finds Middleton for a floater. Payne tips in his own miss. Back-and-forth, back-and-forth.
Bucks 50-51 Suns, 5:07, 2nd quarter
Booker gets fouled and he gets free throws and this is officially a back-and-forth game. I guess I jinxed the whole thing right before the start of this second quarter.
Bucks 50-49 Suns, 5:46, 2nd quarter
Portis scores and draws a Crowder foul. He gets the free throw and then after a Paul miss, he gets a three-pointer on his end to give the Milwaukee Bucks an improbable lead.
Bucks 44-49 Suns, 6:37, 2nd quarter
That sparks a Suns run to untie it with Crowder making a layup and yet another three-pointer, this one is via Cam Johnson.
Middleton makes a jumper that’s immediately answered by Chris Paul. This is going back-and-forth now.
Bucks 42-42 Suns, 7:48, 2nd quarter
Middleton scores to make it a one-possession game, albeit briefly as Ayton knocks in a Johnson miss.
And just like that, Holiday hits a jumper and Connaughton the Slugger ties it with a three-pointer.
Bucks 35-40 Suns, 8:48, 2nd quarter
Ayton can’t get his own rebound so it’s another chance for the Suns. Portis with a three-pointer and it’s a five-point game. Wowsers!
I love that the new “Suicide Squad” movie is called “The Suicide Squad” because it’s trying to memory-hole the very existence of the first “Suicide Squad” movie: “That awful mess is a figment of your imagination, this is the real start of the Suicide Squad franchise.”
Bucks 32-40 Suns, 9:31, 2nd quarter
Never mind, there’s a Chris Paul three pointer.
And that it’s for Phoenix as the Bucks go back-to-back thanks to another Holiday shot and an emphatic, timeout-forcing Lopez dunk. The lead’s down to single digits.
As I said, very very early.
Bucks 28-37 Suns, 10:44, 2nd quarter
And a Holiday three-pointer and we have an official counter-punch here for Milwaukee as Phoenix are finally starting to miss on their end.
Bucks 25-37 Suns, 11:05, 2nd quarter
Holiday with a layup and that’s back-to-back Bucks buckets.
Bucks 23-37 Suns, 11:39, 2nd quarter
Brook Lopez starts the scoring in the second, which is good news for the Bucks.
Email from Ronnie King King:
Who you think going to win the game tonight
Well I said the Suns about an hour ago and nothing that’s happened has made me second guess my opinion so far.
Bucks 21-37 Suns, end of the 1st quarter
Holiday has a layup attempt and, because this is the Bucks’ first quarter, he misses. That will do it for the first quarter.
Bucks 21-37 Suns, 44.9, 1st quarter
Booker immediately scores in response. Giannis can’t hit a three on his end. Torrey Craig hits one for Phoenix and man there’s just no stopping the bleeding here in the first for Milwaukee.
Bucks 21-32 Suns, 1:51, 1st quarter
Cameron Payne hits the ground and Bobby Portis trips over him accidentally. The whole play ends up being a 24-second violation on Milwaukee. They both seem okay. On the other end, Ayton gives up the ball an Connaughton hits yet another three-pointer.
Bucks 16-32 Suns, 2:40, 1st quarter
Giannis gets fouled on a layup, which is what the Bucks needs. What he doesn’t need is this chanting nonsense, which gets into his head as much as it does mine. He misses badly.
Bucks 16-32 Suns, 3:10, 1st quarter
And there’s a goaltend charge on Giannis, which feels like it’s a decent block that the Bucks don’t challenge, so that’s two more points for Phoenix, given to Mikal Bridges. The Bucks turn it over again on their end, this is all disastrous. Bridges hits a three-pointer, that one’s all him, and Milwaukee has to call another timeout.
Well, so far I’m liking my prediction for an easy Phoenix victory but it’s very, very, very early.
Bucks 16-27 Suns, 3:44, 1st quarter
Milwaukee needs some scoring and here’s Giannis at the line… and, oh god, the crowd is counting down the seconds again. I hate this so, so much but it’s effective here, he misses both.
Bucks 16-27 Suns, 4:11, 1st quarter
Middleton gets called for a foul which puts Ayton on the line and he makes his two free throws. Bobby Portis is in the game now and… he misses a three. Just not a great start for the Bucks.
Bucks 16-25 Suns, 4:38, 1st quarter
That’s ten straight scores for Phoenix, Booker with a dunk. They almost make it eleven but Tucker gets called for a foul before another Booker dunk. (This also saves Giannis from his first foul, which would have happened after the would-be dunk.)
Bucks 16-23 Suns, 5:20, 1st quarter
Booker with another jumper. The Milwaukee defense isn’t doing its job here but the offense isn’t so bad. There’s another Giannis jumper… and then Paul finds Ayton for al alley-oop. He’s definitely cooking this time around.
Bucks 14-18 Suns, 6:17, 1st quarter
Holiday picks up a foul and here comes Jeff Teague in to take his place and, oh here’s Connaughton in for Brook Lopez. Booker makes a jumper for the Suns but Connaughton comes through on the offensive end with a three-pointer.
Bucks 11-16 Suns, 6:50, 1st quarter
Okay let’s see what the Bucks have out of the timeout. Holiday gets the ball and lays down a jumper. On the other side, Paul makes his first basket of the game.
Bucks 9-14 Suns, 7:33, 1st quarter
This is thunderous chaos! Crowder hits a three-pointer, Booker snatches away a Middleton pass and Crowder gets the crowd going full-blast with a dunk that forces the Bucks to take an early timeout.
Everybody take notice, we might now be getting The Jae Crowder Game.
Bucks 9-9 Suns, 7:54, 1st quarter
Booker with a layup, Giannis follos through. On the other end Ayton can’t keep control of the ball, Tucker steals it, gets it to Holiday who finds Middleton who ties it up with a long-ball.
Bucks 4-7 Suns, 9:23, 1st quarter
Jae Crowder his a three for the Suns first field goal after grabbing a Middleton miss. Giannis scores for Milwaukee in response and Ayton gets a hook shot. Okay, now the shots are falling after a rough start.
Bucks 2-2 Suns, 10:19, 1st quarter
Holliday fouls Ayton, who gets Phoenix’s first points of the game.
Bucks 2-0 Suns, 10:40, 1st quarter
LeBron James had hoped to be doing more than doing publicity for “Space Jam 2” tonight, but that’s the way the NBA postseason has gone. He’s in the audience as the two teams actually still playing trade misses.
Bucks 2-0 Suns, 11:35, 1st quarter
And we’re off! Jrue Holiday gets the ball first and he connects.
And you know that this is the Key Game in the series because they have hired Spike Lee to put together the Official Opening Montage.
And now we get footage of all of Chris Paul’s Game 4 turnovers. This is officially the main narrative going in, although it should also be noted that Devin Booker basically fouling out also harmed the Suns last game (the officials didn’t call that sixth foul, but he was still stymied during crunch time).
I am not going to lie, following the WNBA All-Star Game was a lot more fun than the self-congratulatory stuff going on here in the Finals Preview. It’s no fun liveblogging people saying stuff in comparison.
Phoenix Suns starters
Same thing on Phoenix’s side. Everybody knows their role at this point of the playoffs, it’s just down to execution now.
Chris Paul, PG
Devin Booker, SG
Mikal Bridges, SF
Jae Crowder, PF
Deandre Ayton, C
Milwaukee Bucks starters
Same as last time around, it seems.
Jrue Holiday, PG
JR Tucker, PF
Khris Middleton, SG
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF
Brook Lopez, C
I sometimes think that this account is not so “random.” Connaughton, of course, ended up being a key bench player for Milwaukee in Game 4: playing 32 minutes and picking up 11 points and, more notably, 9 rebounds. They could use a similar boost this time around.
“Nobody cares about your story unless you win it.” – Chris Paul
Okay, that’s a more succinct version of what I was trying to say about Giannis’s Block back in the preamble. It’s all about who ends up in the final score, trying to write these stories before the final countdown is an exercise in blind faith.
Alright, I’m officially out of the running, having predicted Phoenix-in-Five before the start of the series because, well, we’re going at least six here. That’s just basic math.
I’m still sticking with the Suns winning here eventually but I don’t know how many games. I’ll say they win tonight, maybe by double-digits because we’re due for a not-so-close game. Hope I’m wrong though! It’s always more fun to cover these games when everything is on the line with every possession! So let me go with Suns 108-Bucks 98.
In any case, if we’re going to talk about one musical artist during tonight’s game it would be the Diabolical One. In preparation for Game 5, Footprint Center has blasted the late Biz Markie’s immortal “Just A Friend” before the game action.
Outside Reality Rears Its Ugly Dead
Antetokounmpo is out thanks to the NBA’s Safety and Health Protocols! Er, that’s Thanasis Antetokounmpo and not Giannis, freaked you out there for a second, right? In any case, not great news for Milwaukee.
Oh and we’re also down an official for the very same reason.
Maybe it’s time to return to the Bubble?
Sometimes when writing these liveblogs, you’re so fixated on getting the details right (who’s currently winning, the current score, the players who just scored, which player is red hot and who can’t buy a shot, etc.) that the key moments of the game don’t even register at the time. Looking back at Thursday’s Game 4 liveblog, it’s clear that Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game-changing block (quickly labeled “the greatest block in NBA history” by some who quite likely are getting just a little bit ahead of themselves) was just barely recorded here as “Giannis gets a huge block on the other end.”
Well, here’s the thing about moments like this: for the most part they aren’t really imprinted into historical memory unless they’re pulled off by the winning team. Right now? Well, right now that’s very much all in the air. After putting themselves in the driver’s seat by taking a 2-0 Finals lead, the Suns dropped their next two against the Milwaukee Bucks, thanks in no small part to the fact that Giannis has been absolutely dominant on both ends. Now, it’s all even up after four, meaning this has been reduced to a three-game series.
One of the key reasons that the Suns struggled in Game 4 was that Chris Paul shot 5-for-13 and had a number of turnovers, including an absolute howler that essentially allowed Milwaukee to hold on to their victory. It’s led to speculation that his hand injury is affecting him more than anybody is willing to admit. Given how teams dislike handing over such information to opposing teams, we likely won’t find out exactly how healthy anybody is until after the series is over.
The good news is that we’re now going to get at least six games in what is shaping up to be a very exciting Finals. It’s also looking like the concern that the lack of the big-name franchises would harm the viewing numbers was at least somewhat overblown. It’s almost like great basketball is great basketball even if it doesn’t involve LeBron James or Steph Curry. If the first four games are any indication, we should have another exciting game on our hands. If you want to contribute to this liveblog, as always you can either email us (to firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet us (to @HunterFelt) and we’ll use your commentary throughout. It’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns! We’re scheduled to start shortly after 9:00 pm EST, but this blog will be back well before then.
Hunter will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Andrew Lawrence on the man leading the Suns:
Time has not been kind to the Phoenix Suns. Seven days ago they appeared to be on an inexorable march toward their first championship in franchise history while slapping the Milwaukee Bucks with double-digits losses and reducing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a one-man band. But since the series migrated from Phoenix to Milwaukee, the home team hasn’t just come alive behind Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and other supporting players; the Greek has been at his freakiest – pouring in a combined 61 points (on 60% shooting), 27 rebounds and a lead-preserving block in Game 4.
Now a pivotal Game 5 looms on Saturday in Phoenix with the series tied at 2-2. The Bucks have all the momentum, while the home team could well slide into an irrecoverable position if the visitors should manage to steal one on the road, given the 82% rate at which Game 5 victors go on to take the whole chalupa. With their season at a dark hour, the Suns suddenly find themselves backpedaling toward the wall. But if there’s anyone who can get them moving forward again, it’s Monty Williams.
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