Jrue Holiday had another tough offensive night, spending effort to keep Devin Booker and Chris Paul.
The Milwaukee Bucks bench was OK, not great.
But the Bucks leaned on Khris Middleton and overcame 40% on field shots and a spectacular offensive performance from Booker to beat the Phoenix Suns 109-103 in Game 4 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday in the best game of the series. .
Lagging for much of the second half, the Bucks took the lead late in the fourth quarter with eight straight Middleton points and excellent defense, including two Antetokounmpo blocks – one on Chris Paul and one on Deandre Ayton.
Middleton led the Bucks with 40 points and Antetokounmpo had 26 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists, three steals and two blocks.
“He was special,” Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said of Middleton. “A lot of good things from Khris. And defensively too, I think he gave us a lot on that side. “
The series is tied 2-2, and Game 5 is Saturday in Phoenix (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
Here are four key takeaways from Milwaukee’s Game 4 victory:
Middleton yes in attack, Holiday yes in defense
Middleton was aggressive from the start. He took 15 shots in the first half and finished with 33 attempts, a career high in the playoffs. He scored 24 points in the second half and gave the Bucks a chance to win.
His long distance partner Holiday had another tough night of shooting in the final. Holiday was 4 for 20 and didn’t have a skillful touch on his shots to the edge.
The Bucks had chances. Pat Connaughton missed a 3 point that would have tied the score with 7:15 left in the fourth quarter, and Holiday missed a 3 with 4:05 left that would have tied the score at 95-95. Another holiday miss would have given Milwaukee the advantage 99-97.
However, Holiday, who had 13 points and seven assists, worked on the defensive end, with three steals and four defensive rebounds.
“I know my game isn’t just about scoring goals,” Holiday said. “That’s part of the reason why they brought me here. I can go into the painting and facilitate, make plays that way, and then I can make plays on the defensive side. that my game is not only one-sided, but I have always stayed locked up. Even if my shot does not fall, I always try to be aggressive offensively. But especially defensively where we know that Chris Paul can go at any time. “
Booker was playing
Booker had just 10 points on a 3-on-14 shot in Milwaukee’s victory in Game 3. He’s known for bounce games, and he had one in Game 4.
He had 12 points in the second quarter and 18 points in the third. But he picked up his fourth foul in the third and his fifth foul at 10:50 left in the game. He had 38 points when he left the game. Booker came back with 5:55 left and the Suns 93-90.
“He could have been aiming for over 50 tonight,” said Sun coach Monty Williams. “I wanted to get him in maybe a minute earlier than me, you just hang on trying to get as many stops and solid possessions as you can, but it’s not an ideal situation. But I thought that. we managed it well tonight. We were able to bring him back while the game was still close. “
Booker, who finished with 42 points, destroyed Milwaukee with his mid-range play around the foul line.
“He was locked up,” Williams said. “We talk about it a lot. Yesterday he had a really good training, a pretty decent training, and then this morning he looked really good in our warm-ups, in our shoot-offs, but his concentration to play in the three levels tonight on offense was really good for us. It’s just his state of mind. We knew he was going to bounce back from the other night. He was making mistakes himself and that helps us when he gets to line.
Limit Antetokounmpo – to one degree
Ayton stayed clear of foul issues and it helped the Suns protect the paint much better than they did in Game 3 when the Bucks had a 54-40 advantage, including 28 points in the painting of Antetokounmpo.
The Bucks star finished with 20 points in the paint on Wednesday.
“I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “I have to keep going down more. Keep enjoying the game more. Yeah, that’s about it.”
Ayton had six points, 17 rebounds, five assists and three blocks.
Paul scored just 10 points and finished with five turnovers, giving him 17 in four playoff games. The Bucks scored 24 points on 17 Suns turnovers and outscored the Suns 15-0 in quick break points. Phoenix coach Monty Williams has been concerned about transition defense throughout all the playoffs, and it doesn’t help when the Suns give live-ball turnovers.
“It was bad decision making,” said Paul. “This time we were down two ($ 101-99 with 32 seconds left) and I tried to cross right there, I slipped, flipped it over. I had a few bad passes in first half time. They had a lot more shots than us, so for me I have to deal with the ball. We had 17 turnovers. We shoot the ball too well (51.3%) not to have these chances to score. “