The Milwaukee Bucks tied the Phoenix Suns 2-2 in the 2021 NBA Finals after a thrilling 109-103 win in Game 4 on Wednesday. Leading the series 2-0 after the first two games on their home floor, the Suns have fallen to hard times on the road with two consecutive losses.
In Game 3 against the Milwaukee Bucks, they couldn’t hold off Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had a second straight 40-point outing in the NBA Finals. In Game 4, it was Khris Middleton who broke free for 40 points to hand the Phoenix Suns their second straight loss.
Khris Middleton has made 15 game-tying or go-ahead shots in the 4th-quarter/OT this postseason.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 15, 2021
That's tied with LeBron James (2007) for the most in a single playoffs in the last 25 seasons. pic.twitter.com/P5vJL03oxg
It’s as if they were asked to pick their poison against the Milwaukee Bucks and no matter which one they chose, they still ended up on the losing end. How should the Phoenix Suns respond to avoid a complete meltdown at home?
Here are 5 adjustments that the Phoenix Suns need to make to win against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 5 of the 2021 NBA Finals:
#1 Wear out Khris Middleton in the first half
The Milwaukee Bucks are most dangerous when Middleton gets into a hot streak. At 6-foot-8 with long arms, he can get his shot off against most defenders, including Mikal Bridges and Jae Crowder. But the Bucks forward can be contained and he has been inconsistent throughout the playoffs, including as recently as the second game of the finals.
When Middleton is making his jump shots regularly in the first quarter, the defense has to body up on him and prevent him from getting the ball.
The Phoenix Suns will have to double team him at times just to get the ball out of his hands and force him to be tentative when taking a shot. They focused their defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo in Game 4 and forgot about Middleton. The Suns have to balance their attention between the two Milwaukee Bucks stars.
#2 Phoenix Suns need to keep their composure
This has more to do with their attitude than their execution on either side of the court. When the LA Clippers lost their cool in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, they lost the ball game easily. Coupled with Chris Paul’s all-time great performance, the Clippers lost their cool when things got out of hand and it cost them the game.
Yep — Devin Booker's fifth foul pic.twitter.com/O90uGBabkW— Trevor Booth (@TrevorMBooth) July 15, 2021
The same was true for the Phoenix Suns against the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 3. Devin Booker was the primary culprit here. His fifth foul came out of frustration and it kept him off the floor for several minutes. Coach Monty Williams has to talk to his players and help them stay calm and composed at all times. It will make a great difference when things heat up in the finals, as they are expected to.