Even within the video games the Bucks had gained towards the Nets of their Jap Convention semifinal sequence previous to Recreation 6, their grasp on any lead felt tenuous, at greatest. It typically appeared as if Milwaukee was only one poor stretch away from letting Brooklyn take management.
In Thursday night time’s contest, that feeling — that uneasy, are-they-going-to-blow-it-again feeling — emerged a number of occasions, however one thing modified. Or moderately, somebody modified.
With the Bucks going through elimination, Khris Middleton delivered his greatest efficiency of the postseason, totaling 38 factors (11-of-16 taking pictures 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 appears. 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 minimize 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 minimize 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 at last, when the Nets chopped the lead down to 5 early within the fourth quarter, Middleton drew a taking pictures foul on Joe Harris from past the arc and hit all three free throws. That sparked a 14-0 Bucks run, successfully ending any likelihood of a Nets comeback.
“The playoffs are all about changes once you go from recreation to recreation. We undoubtedly realized that [in Game 5],” Middleton told ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt. “We had a little bit lead right here at halftime. We have been in a position to preserve that lead after which prolong 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 obtained to maintain our composure and battle again.”
Giannis Antetokounmpo (30 factors, 17 rebounds in Recreation 6) is definitely the Bucks’ greatest participant, however even the two-time MVP is aware of that Middleton’s ability 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 said. “He’ll make the proper play. We all know that when he feels good, we have got to provide him the ball. I’ve stated it prior to now. We have simply obtained 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 Recreation 7, and there’ll nearly definitely be extra moments when the stress and depth enhance as each groups battle for a spot within the Jap Convention finals.
When the pictures 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.