Even within the video games the Bucks had received in opposition to the Nets of their Jap Convention semifinal sequence previous to Sport 6, their grasp on any lead felt tenuous, at greatest. It usually appeared as if Milwaukee was only one poor stretch away from letting Brooklyn take management.
In Thursday evening’s contest, that feeling — that uneasy, are-they-going-to-blow-it-again feeling — emerged a number of occasions, however one thing modified. Or slightly, somebody modified.
With the Bucks dealing with elimination, Khris Middleton delivered his greatest efficiency of the postseason, totaling 38 factors (11-of-16 capturing from the sphere), 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in Milwaukee’s 104-89 win. However Middleton’s affect could not be measured by simply his stat line, as fairly because it seems to be. The 2-time All-Star additionally steadied the ship every time the Bucks approached tough waters.
After falling behind by double digits within the first half, the Nets lower the Bucks’ result in 5 with two minutes left within the second quarter. Middleton hit two of his 5 3-pointers earlier than halftime, giving Milwaukee an 11-point cushion.
Brooklyn as soon as once more lower the deficit to 5 with lower than two minutes to go within the third quarter. Middleton responded with two midrange jumpers and a buzzer-beating layup in transition, pushing the lead again to 11.
And eventually, when the Nets chopped the lead down to 5 early within the fourth quarter, Middleton drew a capturing foul on Joe Harris from past the arc and hit all three free throws. That sparked a 14-0 Bucks run, successfully ending any probability of a Nets comeback.
“The playoffs are all about changes once you go from sport to sport. We undoubtedly realized that [in Game 5],” Middleton instructed ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “We had a bit lead right here at halftime. We had been capable of preserve that lead after which lengthen it there within the fourth quarter. They went on a run — we all know they are going to go on runs — however we have nonetheless acquired to maintain our composure and struggle again.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 factors, 17 rebounds in Sport 6) is certainly the Bucks’ greatest participant, however even the two-time MVP is aware of that Middleton’s talent set could make him a greater offensive possibility in crunch time, particularly when he is as locked in as he was on Thursday.
“These moments, he loves these moments,” Antetokounmpo stated. “He will make the proper play. We all know that when he feels good, we have got to provide him the ball. I’ve stated it previously. We have simply acquired to play via him, and we is aware of he’ll make the proper play. He is by no means petrified of these moments.”
Middleton stepped up when Milwaukee wanted him most, however the job is not performed simply but. The Bucks will now head to Brooklyn for Sport 7, and there’ll virtually definitely be extra moments when the stress and depth enhance as each groups battle for a spot within the Jap Convention finals.
When the photographs aren’t falling, when the Nets are surging, when the lead is shrinking, that is when the Bucks will flip to Middleton to calm them down.