The Phoenix Suns have gone from the penthouse to the outhouse in rapid fashion in the NBA Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks are in the catbird’s seat now, as one more win is all that is needed to be a champion. That win could very well come on Tuesday night at Fiserv Forum in front of the home fans.
Milwaukee is -5 at Jazz Sports with a total of 222.5 for Game 6 on July 20. The Bucks need a win for their first NBA championship since 1971 and just the second in franchise history. The Suns need a win just to stay alive after blowing a 2-0 series lead.
Let’s break it all down with a look at Game 6.
Game 5 was a roller coaster ride for all interested parties. The Suns jumped out to a 37-21 lead after the first quarter and everything looked great, but then the Bucks racked up a 43-24 second quarter to take a lead into halftime. It almost paralleled what we’ve seen in the series, as the Suns were up 2-0 following a couple of home wins to open the series and now find themselves trailing.
The Suns even took care of the basketball, turning it over just eight times. They shot 55% from the floor. Those are the games that teams are supposed to win, but it wasn’t in the cards for the Suns, who now face the possibility of elimination.
Phoenix trailed by 10 going into the fourth quarter and locked down defensively, but it was too little, too late. Devin Booker did everything he could and did a lot of it with 40 points on 17-of-33 shooting. The Suns even shot over 68% on three-pointers, but it was the defense that failed them. A defense that had been so good all postseason long.
Chris Paul had 21 points and 11 assists and looked a lot better getting back home to the desert, but, again, it still wasn’t enough. The reserves played poorly for the Suns, especially during the bleak second quarter. Jae Crowder and Cameron Johnson were both -19 in that quarter alone. The Suns tried to steal some rest for Booker in the quarter and it backfired miserably.
The last two games have been decided in the waning minutes and Phoenix has come up on the short end in both. You really have to wonder about the psyche of this team now, as a 2-0 lead has now become a series deficit. Game 6 is a must-win in every sense of the word, though it sure feels like Game 5 was also a must-win.
The Bucks had 11 turnovers to eight for the Suns. They only had 11 offensive rebounds. Yet, Milwaukee had a happy flight home with the 3-2 series lead. The things that worked in Wisconsin didn’t exactly follow the Bucks to Arizona, but they won the game anyway. That is a great sign going forward in this series.
The stars shined the brightest for Milwaukee in Game 5. Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points to lead all Bucks scorers, but Jrue Holiday picked a great time for his best game of the series and maybe even of the playoffs with 27 points and 13 dimes. Khris Middleton continued his fine play with 29 points. The Bucks got additional contributions from Pat Connaughton with 14 points off the bench, but this game was all about the Bucks’ Big Three.
This was the offense we saw from Milwaukee during the regular season. The Bucks scored 123 points. They shot 57.5% from the floor. They shot 50% on threes. Giannis struggled badly at the line, going just 4-of-11, but it was the only blemish on an otherwise perfect offensive night for Milwaukee.
One team heads into Game 6 with confidence and the other does not. Holiday’s game may have been a mirage, but what is not a mirage is that Middleton has really stepped up in the last three games. It is no coincidence that they have all been Milwaukee wins. Giannis has had a huge series, especially when we weren’t even sure if he was going to play, but Middleton is arguably just as important to this team and we’ve seen it recently.
Suns vs. Bucks Free Pick
Both teams have a lot of time to sit and think about Game 6. It doesn’t seem like the Suns will go quietly, but you really have to wonder about their home/road splits in this series. In the three games at home, Phoenix has scored 118 points per game. On the road, the Suns scored 100 and 103 and had major turnover issues.
The total has been swaying in the breeze in this series and now we’re back up to a high point at 222.5. That seems like an overcorrection based on what we saw in Game 5. That makes the under the play here.