Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday had the perfect partnership. Everything was captured in that last play, when the Phoenix Suns seemed to rise from the ashes, Holiday stole a ball in defense from Devin Booker and sent a perfect pass to the Greek, for an alley-oop that sentenced the victory of the Milwaukee Bucks of 123-119 and take a 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals series.
In this way, the Bucks, who managed to overcome a 2-0 deficit at the beginning of the series with three consecutive victories, could celebrate next Tuesday (at 9:30 p.m. in Argentina). his first title since 1971 when they host the Suns in Milwaukee in Game 6.
The victory this Saturday of the Bucks in their visit to the Arizona stadium, newly christened Footprint Center in Phoenix, was thanks to the fantastic performance of her stellar threesome: Giannis Antetokounmpo (32 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists), Khris Middleton (29 points and 7 rebounds) and Jrue Holiday (27 points and 13 assists).
In the Suns Devin Booker stood out that scored 40 points but he was too lonely on the home side for most of the match.
After four games that were resolved with home victories, the Bucks snatched the home court factor from the Suns and caressed their first NBA ring in half a century (they only have the 1971 title in their windows).
The victory this Saturday was not easy for the Bucks, since after dominating the duel from the second quarter they saw how the Suns were located at a single point and with possession to win with only 29 seconds to go in the last quarter.
But on the key play of the game, Holiday surprised Booker almost on the edge of the ring and gave an alley-oop on the fast break to Antetokounmpo, who also had an additional free throw.
The Greek failed from the personal, but grabbed his own rebound and Middleton was in charge of closing the meeting.
In a fifth game with a very high score, the Bucks dominated the rebound (46 for 39) with 11 of them attacking (8 for the Suns).
With a packed stadium and with LeBron James, an NBA celebrity, sitting in the front row watching game five of these finals, the Suns were in evidence by missing the best version of Chris Paul, who finished with 21 points and 11 assists and who it was key to trying the local comeback.
LeBron James sitting in the front row.
At the start Phoenix played the best first quarter of the whole series, scored 37 points which was the maximum in all the first quarters in these finals. And he got to serve 16: in these playoffs he never lost every time he took (at any point in the game) at least 10 points of advantage.
In this way, the Suns wanted to get up from the two previous defeats, first it was Jae Crowder, who with two triples and a counterattack that lifted the entire crowd, put the local 14-9 with 7.33 on the clock.
Then Devin Booker took over, brilliant on field goals (11 points in the first quarter). Until that instance Antetokounmpo was the only recourse for some errant Bucks in the game (7 turnovers, more than in the entire fourth game).
Before the incontestable 37-21 of the first quarter, the Bucks had a lot to row.
However, the visit turned it around with great passages from Khris Middleton and the uncovering of Jrue Holiday, who was doing a great defensive job on Chris Paul throughout the series but was very much in debt in attack. That is how they reaped an early 3-12 partial, which allowed them to redirect the game (40-32 with 9.31 missing).
With Antetokounmpo among the substitutes, Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton and Bobby Portis gained prominence until they came back from the game (49-50 with 5.41 on the clock) after an impressive 12-29 run that left Phoenix fans speechless.
The Suns seemed like a team without direction or purpose, but Booker’s return to the court allowed them to regain the score (55-52 with 3.26 to play).
However, the meeting by then was very different from the first quarter, with Bucks fully reinforced in defense and with a differential Holiday this time (18 points and 7 assists at halftime) that catapulted the visitors after a sensational second set ( 43-24) and a first half of (64-61).
Devin Booker’s effort
Devin Booker tried to reverse history and understood that it was now or never. In extraordinary start of the third quarter he scored 12 points in just 4 minutes.
And Devin Booker just couldn’t turn history around. Above, Holiday did not give him respite when he averaged the third quarter, he stole the ball like a child, to score from the three points and place Bucks 8 points up (83-75).
For that instance the Bucks showed solid foundations in the Holiday-Middleton-Antetokounmpo trio and a ten point lead (85-75 with 5.42 to be played).
The three figures of the visit.
Life smiled at the visitors, who found a thousand ways to penetrate the ineffective defense of increasingly frustrated Suns and who had no news of Paul.
Cameron Payne and Deandre Ayton provided minimal cover for Booker, but the Bucks were pitching with 100 points in just three quarters (100-90).
A clear failure of Ayton in an alley-oop just beginning the final room symbolized the despair of the Phoenix.
The Suns were in dire need of a spark to start the fire and seemed to find it on Paul’s 3-pointer (108-100 with 7.48 to go).
Without losing faith, another triple by Booker, with 1.24 on the clock, put the locals within three points, and a penetration by Paul, with 56 seconds remaining, put them only one point (120-119). People woke up and it seemed like the Suns were rising from the ashes.
But Holiday, like a gladiator, snatched the ball from Booker and in partnership with Antetokounmpo gave victory to Milwaukee, who finished decorating Middleton.
The Bucks just need one more win to end a half-century title drought. “We have to keep playing good basketball and hopefully we can win,” Antetokounmpo said after the victory.
Tuesday will be the sixth game in Milwaukee, but if the Suns achieve victory, the series will be completed on Thursday in Phoenix.