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Milwaukee vs. Atlanta ECF Game 5: Giannis-less Bucks Surge Past Hawks, 123-112

The Bucks now have a 3-2 series lead

NBA: Playoffs-Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

In a raucous Fiserv Forum, the Giannis Antetokounmpo-less Milwaukee Bucks utilized their homecourt advantage to the maximum extent, earning a 123-112 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. They now sit one win away from the NBA Finals.

To kick this one off, the Bucks came out firing on all cylinders. They immediately jumped out to a 10-2 lead just 2:10 into the first quarter, forcing the Hawks to call a timeout. That level of play would continue for Milwaukee. Considering the fact that they came in without Giannis, the fact that they were able to piece together that dominant of a first quarter was incredible. Going into the second, the Bucks led 36-22.

However, that 3-point shooting would dwindle down for Milwaukee, which provided Atlanta an opportunity to stick their foot in the door. How frigid was their shooting? Let’s just say that the Bucks would miss 12 consecutive threes. Going into intermission, the home team saw their lead chiseled down to just nine points, 65-56.

The Bucks would hold their lead for the majority of the third quarter, not letting the Hawks take too large of a bite into the deficit. Once again fueled by the play of Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez, the Bucks were able to build on their nine point halftime lead, making it 91-78 to their advantage going into the final quarter of regulation.

That double-digit advantage would stay intact for the Bucks throughout the fourth quarter. They’d do a fantastic job of slamming the door shut on the Hawks, as before you’d know it, Milwaukee would be flirting with a 20-point lead. However, Atlanta would at least make it interesting down the stretch, getting it to single digits at times. Despite that, Milwaukee proved to be too much. They’d put the final touches on a 123-112 victory. They are now one win away from the NBA Finals.

Brook Lopez was the leading scorer for Milwaukee. He’d conclude his outing with an enormous 33 point performance on 14-of-18 shooting. Bobby Portis was also extremely impressive filling in for Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’d step up in a massive manner, as he went off for a playoff career-high 22 points. Khris Middleton (26 points) and Jrue Holiday (25 points) would have huge impacts as well.

What Did We Learn?

Due to Giannis Antetokounmpo’s hyperextended knee, When he was called on, he delivered — and in a huge manner. He’d go 9-of-20 from the floor, which culminated in a silky smooth 22 points. That is a playoff career-high for Portis. He was just huge in every asset for the Bucks. Whether it was hitting a shot, making a pass, getting a board, or getting the crowd fired up — BP was there. In his postgame presser, Bud mentioned how Portis’ passion is just off the charts. You couldn’t have asked for a better performance from him. His performance inspired me to provide you all with some advice:

Also, Bobby had a great quote in his postgame availability:

Three Observations

Brook Lopez — have a day, big fella.

The contributions from Brook Lopez last night were just off the charts. Let me read you his performance. He’d go 14-of-18 from the floor, hit 5-of-7 at the free throw stripe, corral in seven rebounds and erupt for 33 points. So many times in this game, he was having an impact. The biggest of those impacts? Whenever he slammed home a dunk. There was a play that I’m still impressed by — that one-handed alley-oop slam:

Khris Middleton also came out and produced.

The Robin to the Batman of Giannis, Khris Middleton had a big impact on this game. While he’d probably tell you he wish he could’ve had more of an impact. However, his 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting really was a major contribution for Milwaukee. When the Bucks needed a few buckets, Middleton was able to get the job done by connecting on a few. They’d help keep the Hawks at bay and prevent them from making any too large of a run. When Middleton was counted on, he delivered. The Bucks will look to Middleton for another key performance Saturday night in Atlanta.

When Jrue Holiday is aggressive, it’s massive for the Bucks.

Early on when Milwaukee constructed their massive lead in the first, it was thanks in large part to the incredible and aggressive play from Jrue Holiday. His willingness to drive to the basket and score at will was incredible, and really put the Bucks in a good place from the forefront of this one. Though he’d go cold at times, his performance of 9-of-20 from the floor for 25 points was extremely effective. I haven’t seen video footage of it yet, but apparently, Charles Barkley asked Holiday postgame “Why aren’t you this aggressive ALL THE TIME?”, to which Holiday responded, “You right.” Look for Holiday to continue that aggressiveness in Game 6.

Bonus Bucks Bits

  • Bryn Forbes finally got a shot to fall, but it was a frustrating night for him. He’d go just 1-of-4 from the floor (1-of-3 from deep). However, those are still shots that the Bucks will want him to take, as if he just connects on a pair, it can turn the momentum around completel.
  • I’m still confused by the Jeff Teague minutes. In his three minutes play, it really seemed as if he had a negative impact on the court, including one turnover on a lazy pass that resulted in an easy Atlanta basket. I don’t think I’m stepping out on a limb when I say that Bucks fans are done with the Jeff Teague experiment.
  • How chaotic was the Fiserv Forum atmosphere last night?
  • Don’t believe me?
  • At times, there was some miscommunication from the Bucks, which resulted in free points for the Hawks. Those are the mistakes that the Bucks simply need to avoid. If it were to continue in Atlanta, it could be a long night.
  • The Deer District never gets old. When the plans for Fiserv Forum and what was then just known as the “entertainment plaza” were in the design stages, it was awesome to wonder what a rowdy atmosphere in it would look like. Now, we are living out that with every Bucks playoff game, and it’s incredibly awesome: