September 16, 2021

2021 NBA Finals Game 5 DifferenceMakers

What were the key stats and moments from the Milwaukee Bucks’ tide-turning Game 5 win over the Phoenix Suns?

Milwaukee Bucks 123, Phoenix Suns 119

Bucks lead series 3-2


The tables have turned in this series. After falling behind 0-2, the Bucks have charged back with three consecutive victories. The team’s Game 5 win Saturday night was particularly gutsy because it happened on the road. Milwaukee is now one win away from their first title since 1971, and they have the chance to clinch it in front of their home crowd on Tuesday.

Milwaukee took the first shot, falling behind 37-21 by the end of the first quarter. The Suns shot a phenomenal 73.7 percent from the field and went 5-of-6 from 3-point range in that opening frame. But once the Bucks survived that wave, they bounced back in a big way. Milwaukee outscored Phoenix 79-53 over the next two quarters.

Phoenix managed to close the gap in the fourth quarter, making it 120-119, Bucks, with 56 seconds left. However, a huge steal by Jrue Holiday that led to a Giannis Antetokounmpo alley-oop sealed the game for Milwaukee.

Both teams shot at a high-level when this game was all said and done. Milwaukee came away with a .575/.500/.529 shooting split, while Phoenix answered with a .552/.684/.909. That 38.0 percent difference in free throw percentage may be glaring. In reality, Phoenix only made one more free throw (10) than Milwaukee (9).

The Big Threes really came through for both sides. Milwaukee’s Giannis/Holiday/Khris Middleton trio outscored Phoenix’s Devin Booker/Chris Paul/Deandre Ayton triumvirate 88-81. Giannis led the Bucks with 32 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Holiday finished with a 27-point, 13-assist double-double.

Devin Booker came away with 40 points, his second consecutive 40-pointer and his fourth of the playoffs. Unfortunately, per StatMuse, that means he’s the only player in Finals history to have back-to-back 40-point games in losing efforts.

In the end, this game was a roller-coaster, as both teams held sizable leads during this game. It was simply a matter of which team could make the right plays down the stretch. In the face of a Suns surge, it was Jrue Holiday that came up big. After an exciting game like this, you can’t help but wonder who will be the hero in Game 6?