Despite trailing by 16 at the conclusion of the first quarter, the Milwaukee Bucks were able to right the ship in time to enter the halftime break with a two-point lead. The Phoenix Suns didn’t let them take the game easily, battling in the second half but ultimately falling short.
The Bucks have now won three games in a row after starting the series with two losses. They can win the NBA Championship by winning Game 6 back on their home court. The Game 5 thriller was the first game in the series that saw the road team victorious.
#1 Hit: Khris Middleton (Milwaukee Bucks)
Milwaukee Bucks wing Khris Middleton showed up yet again in a massive way to follow up his big Game 4 performance. He once again hit big shots and proved to be a key closer for the Milwaukee Bucks.
For the first time in the NBA Finals series, Middleton shot over 50 percent from the field. He hit 12-23 shots, got to his spots with ease and converted all night.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton join Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in 2012 as the only pair of teammates to each have 500 points and 100 assists in a single postseason. pic.twitter.com/IKLHC0DinT— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2021
The Phoenix Suns were unable to prevent Middleton from getting to his areas of the court, primarily in the mid-range. When the Milwaukee Bucks needed big shots late, they went to their well-rounded offensive wing and he converted.
After failing to get to the free-throw line in the first two games of the series, Middleton has gotten there in each of the last three games, all of which have been wins for the Milwaukee Bucks.
#2 Flop: Deandre Ayton (Phoenix Suns)
Despite a strong stat line in the Game 5 loss, Deandre Ayton of the Phoenix Suns comes in as a miss due to the minutes he played and the lack of impact he was able to have over the course of those minutes.
He finished with a double-double, 20 and 10. He hit all six of his free throw attempts and blocked a couple of shots, as well. The Phoenix Suns big man put up numbers across the board.
"Everything." Deandre Ayton on what it'll take to win Game 6.— Duane Rankin (@DuaneRankin) July 18, 2021
On facing elimination:
"We're the desperate team." #Suns
Still, Ayton played 45 minutes in the game and grabbed just 10 rebounds. Double digit boards is good production but not when you’ve been rebounding at the rate Ayton has been and you barely came off the court.
In addition to that, Ayton failed to demand the ball on a few possessions that he had much smaller players switched onto him. He needs to demand and get the ball on those possessions and his life will be easier as well as the lives of each and every one of his fellow Phoenix Suns.