The NBA Finals are down to just two teams, and Game 5 is where the Cleveland Cavaliers will try to tie up the series at 3-3. With LeBron James out for the rest of the finals, what can we expect from this game?
The espn nba finals is a sports blog that covers the NBA Finals. The blog will answer the big questions heading into a pivotal Game 5 of the series on June 10th, 2021.
The Milwaukee Bucks know how to come back from a 2-0 hole, having done it against the Brooklyn Nets in the second round. The Bucks travel to Phoenix with the series tied at two games each after falling down 2-0 in the NBA Finals. Will the Phoenix Suns be able to reclaim their home court advantage, or will the “Bucks in six!” rallying cry become a reality? Heading into Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Saturday, our experts discuss the key issues (9 p.m. ET on ABC and the ESPN App).
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1. Chris Paul’s turnovers: nil, nil, nil, nil, nil, nil, nil
The 2021 NBA Finals will be broadcast on ABC, with the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks at 2-2 in the series.
Saturday, 9 p.m. ET, Game 5 Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET, Game 6 Game 7* is scheduled for July 22 at 9 p.m. ET.
Sedano: It’s a fact. In Game 4, Middleton scored 10 points in the last 2 minutes and 15 seconds of the game, outscoring the Suns 10-4. In fact, the Bucks usually follow Middleton’s lead. The Bucks are 2-5 in games when Middleton scores 17 points or less this playoffs. The Bucks are 12-2 when he scores 18 points or more.
Friedell: This is a work of fiction. Middleton is fantastic, but he can’t match Antetokounmpo’s abilities. Middleton is still an underrated talent who has proven to be the team’s closer, but he doesn’t have the same impact as the two-time MVP.
Lopez: It’s true. Let me be clear: Antetokounmpo is the best player on the Bucks. That is without a doubt the case. So far in the Finals, the score has been 32-14-5. However, if Middleton leaves, the Bucks’ record will suffer. The Bucks’ two defeats this season have come in Game 1 of the Finals (with Antetokounmpo just returning from injury) and Game 5 of the playoffs against the Nets, when Brooklyn fought back from a four-point deficit in the fourth quarter. If Middleton performs at his peak, the Bucks will be very difficult to defeat.
3. Which non-star will have the most impact on the outcome of Game 5?
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Friedell: Bobby Portis is who I’m going with. He has the passion and ability to alter the outcome of a game. If he can contribute significantly off the bench and the Bucks’ core puts in great games, there’s a good possibility they’ll be able to celebrate in Milwaukee after Game 6.
Lopez: Pat Connaughton must continue to provide a spark off the bench if the Bucks are to be successful. Connaughton’s shooting statistics this series compared to the rest of the Bucks’ bench are as follows:
- Connaughton 3-6 FG, 2-4 3P in Game 1; rest of bench 5-11 FG, 4-7 3P
- Connaughton: 5-10 FG, 4-9 3P in Game 2; rest of the bench: 3-9 FG, 1-5 3P in Game 2.
- Connaughton 3-5 FG, 2-4 3P; remainder of the bench 5-20 FG, 2-7 3P in game three.
- 4-9 FG, 3-7 3P for Connaughton; 1-6 FG, 1-1 3P for the rest of the bench in Game 4. (all Bobby Portis)
Lowe: Bridges, just because his degree of participation in the Suns’ offense — especially the amount of corner 3s he finds — seems to be a harbinger of the team’s success. During the regular season, Phoenix attempted almost 10 corner-3 tries per game. It has 28 points after four games, with 17 of them coming in Game 2. In Game 4, Bridges was a non-factor. On the other end, he’ll be a big part of Phoenix’s attempt to get a grip on Middleton. Portis and Cameron Payne deserve special consideration; the Suns badly need someone to push the rim from the outside, and Payne may be the best option for spot minutes.
4. What will it take for a team to win this series on the road?
Sedano: Role players have always performed better at home. If either side can produce outlier road performances from its role players, the series will most likely be decided in their favor.
Friedell: An incredible performance from a superstar who leads his side to victory. In Game 4, Booker came close to pulling it off. In Game 2, Antetokounmpo attempted to make it happen. On the road, someone will have to throw his team on his back and produce a career-defining performance.
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Lopez: The Bucks will rely on Holiday and Middleton to make shots. This series, Holiday is shooting 33.3 percent and is 6-for-22 from 3-point range. As usual, his defense has been outstanding, but shots must fall. Middleton shot 47.6% from the field and 41.4 percent from beyond the arc during the regular season. These fell to 40.5 percent and 33.3 percent in the two games in Phoenix.
Phoenix, on the other hand, must continue to defend the basketball as it has throughout the playoffs. The Suns had 17 turnovers in Game 4, which matched for the most in any postseason game this season, and 14 in Game 3, which tied for the second most. They have a fantastic opportunity to steal a game in Milwaukee if they remain at 12 or lower, like they did in the previous two games.
Lowe: It takes the same things to win any game at this level: a few more three-pointers than usual, the necessary composure to prevent mistakes and halt home-team surges, and a little luck.
MacMahon: Can a team’s whole starting lineup show up for a road game? During the first two games in Phoenix, Antetokounmpo didn’t receive much assistance from Middleton and Holiday, who combined to shoot 36.4 percent from the field. In Game 3, Devin Booker was a bust. In Game 4, Paul had his poorest performance of the playoffs.
5. In how many games does each team win the series?
Friedell: I predicted Bucks in six games before the series started, and I’m sticking to it. They’ve built up some steam and will be able to ride it into Phoenix on Saturday. If they win Game 5 on Saturday, they’ll travel to Milwaukee for what might be one of the most electrifying atmospheres in NBA history for a possible closeout game in Game 6.
Lopez: It seems that whomever wins Game 5 will win the series, so I’m going with the Deer District and Bucks in six games.
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Lowe: I had the Suns in a seven-game lead heading into the series, partially due to concerns about Antetokounmpo’s knee, and I don’t believe in altering my mind as the series progresses. That has a good chance of hitting, but I’m not so sure anymore.
MacMahon: I’ll stick with my pre-series prediction of the Suns winning in seven games, but I have to confess that I’m not sure how confident I am in it. I didn’t expect Antetokounmpo to be that dominating despite playing on a hyperextended knee, which had cast doubt on his health heading into the series. The Suns, on the other hand, enjoy home-court advantage, which has obviously aided them in these Finals.
Sedano: My first prediction was for the Suns to win in seven games. That’s what I’m going to do. Chris Paul, I believe, is the key. He’s much too talented and astute to ignore his turnover problems. I think Phoenix has a good chance if he does that.
The who are the pistons going to draft is a question that has been posed for a while. With Game 5 of the NBA Finals coming up, it is time to answer the big questions heading into this pivotal game.
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