The Milwaukee Bucks have won one NBA title in franchise history. They have the opportunity to double that number on Tuesday night. It has been 50 years since the 1971 title the Bucks won with a roster headlined by Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. It remains to be seen if Giannis Antetokounmpo will be a HOFer, but he sure is playing like one in this series.
Giannis and his teammates are five-point favorites to claim the Larry O’Brien Trophy following Game 6. The Phoenix Suns will be looking for an upset to send the series back to the desert for Game 7. Along with the -5 number, the total sits at 222 across most of the betting market.
The Bucks have won three in a row to erase a 2-0 series deficit. That means that the Suns have lost three in a row, tying their longest losing streak of the season. A fourth loss in a row would mean a new high and also the end of a dream.
The Suns need more in-game consistency to avoid that fate. Phoenix took much better care of the basketball back at home in Game 5, but still lost because a 16-point lead after the first quarter became a three-point deficit at halftime. The Suns trailed by 10 going into the fourth quarter.
Defensive lapses have been too commonplace for the Suns in the last three games. In the two games in Milwaukee, they were a victim of volume, as the Bucks racked up extra possessions with turnovers and offensive rebounds. In Game 5, Phoenix just tried to outscore Milwaukee and came up short.
Win Some, Lose Some
Phoenix has gotten into some bad habits in this series. Devin Booker, almost out of necessity, took 33 shots in Game 5. The Suns have been at their best this postseason when they’ve been sharing the basketball. The crazy thing is that they still shot 68.4% from three and 55.2% from the field, but failed defensively.
Milwaukee shot 57.5% from the floor and 50% from three. It was the type of offensive effort that we saw a lot during the regular season from the Bucks, but have rarely seen in the playoffs. Most importantly, Khris Middleton stayed hot with 29 points and Jrue Holiday paired up his strong defense with strong offense to have 27 points.
Giannis had 32 and struggled again at the free throw line, but the supporting cast showed up. Each game has been its own chapter of the NBA Finals story, as the main characters have featured prominently, but the complementary characters have been all over the place.
Middleton’s emergence in the last three games of this series is one of the main reasons why Milwaukee is on the brink of the title.
In the three games at home, the Suns have scored 118, 118, and 119 points. In the two games in Milwaukee, the Suns only scored 100 and 103 points. Phoenix shot 16-of-54 from three in those two games. Two-point shots were falling, but three-point shots were not.
The real issue was that the Suns did not take care of the basketball. They had 14 turnovers in Game 3 and 17 turnovers in Game 4. In the three games at home, Phoenix has committed only 29 turnovers in the three games at home. If the Suns are irresponsible with the ball again in Game 6, this series will be over.
Game 6 Preview – Suns vs. Bucks
This series boils down to two things. TOV% and ORB%. The Bucks lead the Suns 29.7% to 18.7% in ORB%, as they’ve picked up 68 ORebs to 36 for the Suns. The Suns have 60 turnovers and the Bucks have 47, but the two games in Milwaukee were the two most lopsided counts.
Phoenix has a much higher eFG% in the series at .571 to .536 for the Bucks, but Milwaukee has a lot more field goal attempts and has scored 113 points per game to the 111.6 that Phoenix has. Stopping Giannis won’t happen. The Suns need to lock down on Middleton and take him out of the game.
On the Phoenix side, we saw a good Game 5 performance from Chris Paul. They’ll need more of the same in Game 6 and also need Booker to be at his best.
NBA Free Picks – Game 6
The spread of -5 is a big number here for a deciding game, but the Suns showed no ability to score in the previous two games at Fiserv Forum. The total is the more interesting of the two numbers. Both teams shot the lights out in Game 5, which means both teams should commit to playing more defense in Game 6. The total is up to 222 and that is just too high.