The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from their first NBA championship in 50 years after they held on to beat the Phoenix Suns 123-119 on the road.
They say a series doesn't start till a home team loses and now the Bucks are in control. Teams up 3-2 in the Finals have gone on to win 81 percent of the time (38-9).
The Bucks Big 3 of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 88 points as they return home with a chance to close out the Finals. Devin Booker led all scorers with 40 points, making it back-to-back games with 40+ points in the series.
Let's jump into the key takeaways at the buzzer.
A game of runs
The Suns were back on their home floor and they didn't take long to find their groove, thanks to a blistering first quarter which saw them take a 37-21 lead after burying 11-straight field goals..
They shot 14-of-19 from the field and 5-of-6 from the 3-point line, seizing momentum with a blistering 23-7 run.
12-15 from the field.- NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
The @Suns have the building ROCKING in Game 5! #ThatsGame #NBAFinals presented by YouTube TV on ABC pic.twitter.com/q2XapZoFz0
Booker led the way with 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting.....but from there it was all Bucks.
They hit back in the second quarter, outscoring the Suns 43-24 on 17-of-24 shooting, thanks to an impressive six-minute stretch with Antetokounmpo on the bench, going on a 25-12 run, overturning a 16-point first-quarter deficit to lead 64-61 at the half.
The Bucks overcame the second-largest first quarter deficit the end of the first quarter in NBA finals history.
Over the final three quarters, the Bucks outscored the Suns 102-82, but it came right down to the wire as the Suns got it to within one-point in the final minute.
In the pivotal second quarter, the Bucks poured in 43 points, - tied for the most points scored in a quarter on the road in Finals history and the most by a team in the NBA finals since the Cleveland Cavaliers scored 49 points (Q1) against the Golden State Warriors in 2017, per ESPN Stats & Info.
Game 5 marked the Suns' first loss in the postseason after leading by double digits. They were 13-0 prior to tonight.
The Jrue Holiday game
Through the first four games of the series, Holiday averaged just 15.3 points on 33.3 percent from the field and 27.3 percent from the 3-point line, coming off a 4-of-20 shooting night in Game 4.
In the pivotal Game 5, Holiday was the difference, putting his imprint on the game on both sides fo the ball.
After the Suns raced out in the first quarter, Holiday led the Bucks' comeback, scoring 14 of his 18 first-half points in the second quarter.
JRUE. LOCKED IN.- NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
He's got 14 in the 2Q and 18 in the game on 8-11 shooting.. #NBAFinals on ABC pic.twitter.com/DOEFjg1a1r
Holiday took turns switching between guarding Chris Paul and Devin Booker, applying pressure on the perimeter, swinging momentum with his defensive work.
In the third quarter, he got the strip on Booker at half-court before draining the transition triple.
Jrue with the strip at midcourt.- NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
Pull-up 3 in transition.. money.
Jrue Holiday making PLAYS in Game 5.@Bucks open up a 10-point lead.. #NBAFinals on ABC pic.twitter.com/h7e1ECxwCl
With the game on the line and the Suns down one with 17 seconds to go, Holiday stripped Booker once again, tossing it to Antetokounmpo for the emphatic alley-oop - his 13th assist of the game.
"Big time steal from Holiday and great pass," Antetokounmpo said postgame. "I think the pass was all about trust.'
This incredible defensive play from Jrue and lob to Giannis helps seal the @Bucks Game 5 win! 🤯#ThatsGame #NBAFinals pic.twitter.com/oQElb5fE9n- NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
If Antetokounmpo's block was the play of Game 4, this was the headliner of Game 5.
Holiday finished with 27 points, 13 assists, four rebounds and three steals on 12-of-20 shooting and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points (14-of-23 FG), nine rebounds and six assists, while Middleton added 29 points (12-of-23 FG), seven rebounds and five assists as the Bucks Big 3 became the fifth trio in NBA Finals history to each score 25 points on 50 percent shooting. They are the first to do so since James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Magic Johnson in 1985., per ESPN Stats & Info.
Booker stays hot
After his historic 42-point performance in Game 4, Devin Booker was back at it in Game 5.
Booker scored 40 points on 17-of-33 from the field, becoming the first Suns player with 40 points in consecutive playoff games, however, with the Suns falling short he becomes the first player in Finals history to lose back-to-back games despite scoring 40+.
Devin Booker is the first player in Finals history to lose back-to-back games despite scoring 40+ points in both games.- ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) July 18, 2021
He's only the 5th player to do that in any playoff series h/t @EliasSports pic.twitter.com/i06vMCbO94
All five Suns starters scored in double figures as they settled into their offence on their home floor. The Bucks were just better.
Phoenix connected on a scorching 55.2 percent from the field and 68.4 percent (13-of-19) from three - making them the first team in NBA history to lose a playoff game shooting 55 percent and 60 percent from three, per StatMuse.
The Bobby Portis experience
While the Bucks Big 3 led the charge, they got some valuable contributions off the bench from Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis.
Connaughton scored 14 points off the bench on 4-of-6 from the field, while Portis added nine points, three rebounds (all offensive) and two steals, causing chaos in the second quarter as he punished the Suns in the paint.
TOUGH And-1 from Bobby Portis. 😤@Bucks have stormed back to take a 50-49 lead.. #NBAFinals on ABC pic.twitter.com/HTm3zmbc7b- NBA (@NBA) July 18, 2021
Portis' energy was pivotal in the second quarter run, jumping the passing lanes, knocking down big shots and creating second-chance opportunities on the glass.
The series shifts back to Milwaukee for Game 6 on Tuesday, July 20, with tip-off scheduled for 9:00 p.m. ET.
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