The Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ loss to Bucks

The Cleveland Cavaliers(12-7) began their three-game road trip in Milwaukee against the Bucks(13-5), and as they did earlier in the season in Milwaukee, the Cavs fell to the Bucks 117-102, which snapped Cleveland’s four-game winning streak. 

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Bucks.

Great: 

First Half Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland: Mitchell had 21 of his team-high 29 points for the Cavs in the first half, and Garland added 17 of his 20 points for the Cavs in the first half. The two combined for 38 of the team’s 63 first-half points, but like the rest of the group, the two struggled in the second half. Mitchell was 8/15 from the floor, while Garland was 6/11 in the first half. However, in the second half, Micthell was 3/9, while Garland was 1/7 from the field.

Not So Great:

Third Quarter: Cleveland led 63-52 at the break and led by as many as 16 points, but the third quarter turned everything around for the Bucks. Milwaukee outscored the Cavs 35-10 in the third. Giannis Antetokounmpo had nine of his game-high 38 points in the quarter. The Cavs shot an abysmal 17% from the field, while the Bucks shot 58%, including 5/6 from deep. A 16-point first-half lead for Cleveland turned into a 14-point deficit as the Bucks led 87-73 at the end three, and the game was essentially over.

In their two wins over the Cavs this season, Milwaukee has outscored Cleveland 69-28 in the third.

Bottom Line

Cleveland got the start they wanted, but unfortunately, they did not get the third quarter they wanted, and ultimately, they didn’t get the win. The Bucks blitzed them, and the Cavs did not respond as their road struggles continued. Cleveland is now 4-6 on the road.

What’s Next:

The Cavs head to Detroit to battle the Pistons on Sunday.

Best of the Rest:

-Jarrett Allen injured his hip after a scary fall in the first quarter. Allen went for an Antetokounmpo pump fake and fell over him. He would return. However, he only played four minutes in the second half.

-Lamar Stevens missed Friday’s game due to illness. Dean Wade stepped in for Stevens and had seven points and 12 rebounds.

-Caris LeVert missed his third straight game with an ankle injury; Kevin Love(thumb) missed his second consecutive game.

-Jevon Carter had 18 points, including five threes for Milwaukee: Along with his 38 points(22 in the first half), Antetokounmpo added nine rebounds, six assists, and two blocks.

Cavs losing streak continues after falling to Bucks

The Cavs were hoping to snap their four-game losing streak on Wednesday night in Milwaukee against the Bucks. Fortunately for Cleveland, they got back their leading scorer Donovan Mitchell(ankle), who missed Sunday’s loss against the Timberwolves. However, they were still without Jarrett Allen(illness) and Dean Wade(knee).

Cleveland(8-6) trailed the Bucks(11-3) by as many as 20 points in this one; they cut the lead to nine in the fourth but could not get any closer as they fell to Milwaukee 113-98 at Fiserv Forum.

The Cavs have now lost five straight; Milwaukee snapped a two-game losing streak.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Bucks.

Great:

Evan Mobley had 20 points on an efficient 9/14 from the field, with seven rebounds and two blocks. Mobley started at center for Allen.

Cavs BackcourtDarius Garland(8/20, 5/9 3FG) and Donovan Mitchell(7/19, 3/9 3FG) scored 23 points apiece for the Cavs, which was nearly half of the team’s points. In addition, the two combined for 11 assists as Garland led the team with eight dimes.

Not So Great:

Third Quarter: Bucks led the Cavs 61-60 at the break but took complete control of the game in the third. They outscored the Bucks 34-18 in the quarter and had the largest lead of the game at 91-71 in the quarter. Brook Lopez(7/9 3FG) was on fire as he scored 11 of his game-high 29 points in the third. The Bucks were sizzling in the third as they shot 60% from the field. On the contrary, Cleveland shot 29% from the floor.

Defense: Cleveland did not get the job done on the defensive end. Milwaukee shot 53% for the first three quarters and easily got into the lane. Just way too many open looks for the Bucks, and they capitalized on it. 

Bottom Line:

There is no shame in losing to the Bucks on the road, but Milwaukee was without Jrue Holiday(ankle) and Khris Middleton(wrist), so this was an opportunity for the Cavs to steal a win. However, that’s hard to do when the defensive energy is not where it needs to be. Hopefully, the Cavs can get it right during their upcoming four-game homestand.

What’s Next:

Cleveland starts a four-game homestand at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday when they host the Charlotte Hornets.

Best of the Rest:

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 16 points, 12 rebounds, and eight assists for the Bucks; Jordan Nwora added 21 points(5/9 3FG) off the bench.

Antetokounmpo, Jokic, Doncic headline First-Team All-NBA

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum have been selected to the 2021-22 All-NBA First Team, the league announced Tuesday.

The All-NBA Second Team consists of Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry, and Chicago Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan.

The 2021-22 All-NBA Third Team is composed of Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns, Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James , Suns guard Chris Paul , Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young, and Toronto Raptors forward Pascal Siakam.

Antetokounmpo was the only player to receive All-NBA First Team votes on all 100 ballots (500 total points), earning his fourth consecutive selection to the First Team and sixth All-NBA Team honor overall (First Team, Second Team and Third Team).  This is the third All-NBA First Team selection each for Doncic and Jokic, the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player.  Booker is making his debut on the All-NBA Team, and Tatum joins Booker as a first-time selection to the All-NBA First Team.

With the selection of Antetokounmpo (27 years old), Doncic (23), Jokic (27), Booker (25) and Tatum (24), the All-NBA First Team is made up entirely of players age 27 or younger for the first time in 67 years (1954-55 season).

Embiid, the 2021-22 NBA scoring champion, has been named to the All-NBA Second Team for the fourth time in the last five seasons.  Morant, the 2021-22 NBA Most Improved Player, is an All-NBA Team honoree for the first time.  This is the 10th All-NBA Team selection for Durant, the eighth for Curry and the third for DeRozan.

This is the second All-NBA Team honor for both Towns and Siakam and the first for Young.  James has extended his NBA record for most All-NBA Team selections to 18.  Paul has been voted to the All-NBA Team for the 11th time, the second-most selections among active players behind James.

Nuggets’ Jokic wins NBA MVP for second consecutive season

For the second straight season, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić has been named the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player, the league announced Wednesday.

He becomes the 13th player to win the award in consecutive seasons. The last player to win back-to-back MVP awards was Giannis Antetokounmpo(2019-2020).

Jokić received 875 points (65 first-place votes); Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid finished in second place with 706 points (26 first-place votes), and Antetokounmpo finished in third place with 595 points (nine first-place votes).

According to StatMuse, Jokic’s 65 first-place votes are the fewest for an MVP since Steve Nash in 2005-06.

The 27-year-old Jokić averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists, 1.47 steals, and 0.85 blocks per game, setting career highs in each category except assists (second highest). The seven-year veteran, who played 74 games and averaged 33.5 minutes, ranked sixth in the NBA in points, second in rebounds, eighth in assists, 12th steals, and 33rd in blocks per game.  

He became the first player in NBA history to record at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, and 500 assists in a season and the first player to average at least 25.0 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists in a season. He led the NBA in triple-doubles with 19 and double-doubles with 66(both single-season team records).

This is the first time that both the top three and four of the top five finishers in voting for the NBA Most Valuable Player Award are international players, with Jokić (Serbia), Embiid (Cameroon), and Antetokounmpo (Greece) comprising the top three and Dončić (Slovenia) joining them in the top five. Jokić is the second European player to win the award more than once, joining Antetokounmpo, the MVP in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons.

You could make a case for Embiid, Antetokounmpo, or Jokić as the league MVP, but in the end, Jokić gets the nod. 

The voting results for the 2021-22 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award are below:

Cavs’ Allen: ‘I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend’

After a long wait, Cavs center Jarrett Allen finally got the call for the 2022 All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. Allen, who made the game for the first time in his career as a reserve, along with his teammate Darius Garland, is having a career year as he ranks among NBA leaders in FG% (2nd, .665), double-doubles (T-6th, 30), and RPG (10th, 11.1).

In addition, he’s recorded ten games this season of 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds, and when he records a double-double, Cleveland is 25-5.

All told, Allen, 23, is averaging career-highs in points (16.2), rebounds (11.0), and assists (1.8) per game. 

“It’s still a lot to take in,” Allen said of making the All-Star Game. “I don’t think I’ve fully grasped the moment that I’m in. I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend, so I’m just excited; I’m ready to take it all in and just enjoy every moment.”

The five-year veteran has turned himself into one of the better centers in basketball and discussed what it’s like to guard the better bigs in the game like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid.

On Antetokounmpo:

“I always find it a fun matchup guarding Giannis. He has so many things to his game. He’s starting to add his jump shot to the game. Obviously, he’s a force going to the paint, so it’s an awesome matchup.”

On Jokic:

“Truly difficult to cover. If you let your guard down even for a split second, he’s going to make a pass to the corner. If you let your guard down for a split second, he’s going to somehow do three spin moves on you and have an open lay-up at the rim. He just has so many things to his package that you have to guard.”

On Embiid:

“I mean, obviously, Embiid had the triple-double on me, but Embiid is a brute. Embiid is going to back down; he’s going to punish you, and he has all the skill, but at the same time, Jokic might have a 15-15-15 night. Both matchups are tough.”

At this point, Cleveland(35-23) is the fourth seed in the East and is 2.5 games behind the Bulls and the Heat for the top spot in the conference. Many teams are bunched up in the East, and only five games separate the seventh-seeded Raptors from the Bulls and the Heat.

“I mean, you look at the East, it’s like you win three games, and now you’re all of a sudden a seven seed,” Allen said. “It’s a crazy race, and it’s those big moves that could change a lot.”

So much could change from this point until the end of the season. With 24 games left, Cleveland is in a prime position to do big things in the East. We’ll see how that works out the rest of the way, but for now, Allen should enjoy All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We take on all challenges’

On Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers ended their three-game homestand in style against the Milwaukee Bucks. 

Cleveland routed the Buck 115-99 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

With the win, the Cavs(30-19) have won three straight and eight of their last nine, while Milwaukee’s(30-20) three-game winning streak was snapped.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ big win over the Bucks.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Kevin Love and Cedi Osman: The difference makers off the Cavs’ bench against the Bucks. Love led the team with 25 points, including five threes and nine rebounds. It was Love’s second straight 20-plus point game. 

Osman scored 18 of 23 points in the first half, including a career-high-tying six threes. The five-year veteran also had a milestone as he grabbed his 1,000th career rebound.

Osman gave the Cavs a significant lift in the second quarter as he scored 15 points(most points he’s had in a quarter in his career), including four threes. Osman had a combined 21 points in the previous four games, but he busted out Wednesday night.

Because of the contributions of Love and Osman, Cleveland’s bench outscored Milwaukee’s bench 57-15.

-Darius Garland continues to play at an All-Star level. He had 19 points and eight assists. Garland battled a back injury throughout the contest, but he gutted it through and led the team. 

-Evan Mobley was in double figures for the 16th straight game as he had 16 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks.

-Jarrett Allen returned after missing Monday’s win over the Knicks with an illness. He had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. It was Allen’s fifth double-double in his last six appearances. 

Second and Third Quarters: The Bucks shot 73.7% from the floor and led 35-26 after one quarter. Then, Osman and Love happened in the second quarter, and the Cavs woke up.

Cleveland shot 50% from the field and made seven threes(7/12) in the second. Love and Osman combined for 21 of Cleveland’s 39 points in the quarter. Milwaukee led the Cavs 37-26 at the 11:41 mark of the second quarter. Cleveland would outscore the Bucks 36-14 to take their largest lead in the quarter of 11 points(62-51).

Cleveland outscored the Bucks 39-22 in the second quarter and took a 65-57 lead at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Cavs continued to dominate the world champions. Cleveland outscored the Bucks 30-20 in the quarter and held Milwaukee to 26.3% from the field, including 1/7 from deep. 

The Cavaliers outscored the Bucks 69-42 in the second and third quarters. Cleveland led Milwaukee 95-77 after three quarters. The Cavs had their largest lead of 21 points in the third. 

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

You beat the world champions by 16 points; it’s all good in the Land.

Bottom Line:

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team’s victory over the Nets on MLK Day was a signature win. Well, this win was probably better. Here’s why: First, the Bucks are 18-3 this season when Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday are in the lineup. Next, Milwaukee was on a three-game winning streak, and finally, the Cavs not only beat the Bucks, but they blew them out, so yes, this is the Cavs’ signature win of the season. 

Cleveland is the third seed in the East and is now 1.5 games behind the Heat for the top spot in the conference. The Cavs are for real, and if they keep winning, maybe they can grab the top spot in the East.

“We take on all challenges,” Bickerstaff said of the Cavs. “We don’t run from anybody. We don’t back down. We give everybody our best shot.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland will have a few days off before they travel to Detroit to battle the Pistons Sunday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with a game-high 26 points. He also added nine rebounds and three assists. Bobby Portis had 22 points, and Middleton added 21. 

-Cleveland had six players in double figures against the Bucks. The Cavs recorded 19 threes in this one.

-In their last 12 games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavs are 10-2.

Watch below as Love, Osman, and Allen react to the big win over the Bucks:

Cavs’ Allen: ‘We’re going to fight till the end’

Coming off a tough loss to the Jazz at home Sunday night, the Cavaliers went into Milwaukee to face the world champion Bucks.

Cleveland trailed Milwaukee by 10 entering the fourth quarter and would cut the lead to 98-96 with just over seven minutes to go. However, the Bucks would go on a 9-1 run to put the game away and win 112-104 at Fiserv Forum Monday night.

After winning four straight, the Cavaliers(13-12) have dropped two consecutive games, while the Bucks(16-9) have won two straight and 10 of 11. 

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Bucks.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Jarrett Allen’s double-double streak ended at seven games, but he had a very good performance Monday night. He led the way for Cleveland with 25 points(10/12 FG), nine rebounds and two blocks. Allen is getting it done and is second in the NBA in field goal percentage(71%).

-Lauri Markkanen had a solid performance. He scored 20 points, including four threes, and had seven rebounds.

-Kevin Love gave the Cavs great minutes off the bench. Love scored 15 points, including a game-high five threes in 19 minutes. The 13-year veteran has been in double figures in four out of the last five games.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

After two straight 30-point games, Darius Garland struggled with his shot. He was 3/12 from the floor and finished with only 10 points. Garland did add nine assists. However, he led the team in turnovers(four).

-Isaac Okoro was 0/6 from the floor, including 0/3 from downtown. He had a team-worst -20 rating.

-Playing the second game of a back-to-back can be taxing, and the Cavs played like a tired team Monday. They shot 39% from the field and 15/46 from three-point range. At times, it appeared Cleveland fell too much in love with the three-point shot as they launched more threes than two-point shots.

Bottom Line:

Beating the Jazz(16-7) and Bucks(16-9) on back-to-back nights would be tough for any team in the NBA. To the Cavs’ credit, they were a Garland three away from beating the Jazz, and they competed and battled against the Bucks. However, they fell short, which is not the end of the world when you consider where the Cavs are right now.

“We’re going to fight till the end,” Allen said. “That’s the main thing I learned about this team, about the guys. No matter how we start the game, no matter who’s in front of us, big or small, we’re going to go out there and fight till the end.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home to play another tough team when they battle the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

Giannis Antetokounmpo led the way for Milwaukee as he scored 15 of his game-high 27 points in the fourth and grabbed 12 rebounds on his 27th birthday. Khris Middleton had 21 points and eight assists, Jrue Holiday scored 20 points and dished out eight assists, and Bobby Portis had a double-double with 10 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.

-Evan Mobley had 12 points and six rebounds for Cleveland. However, Mobley’s streak of 13 games with a block was snapped against Milwaukee.

Watch below as Markkanen and Allen react to the loss against the Bucks:

76ers’ Rivers: ‘Tyrese [Maxey] was sensational’

On Tuesday night, the Philadelphia 76ers(8-4) hosted the world champion, Milwaukee Bucks(5-6). 

However, Philadelphia was without their top three scorers in Joel Embiid(Health and Safety Protocols), Tobias Harris(Health and Safety Protocols), and Seth Curry(Foot contusion). Also, they were missing Matisse Thybulle(Health and Safety Protocols), and of course, Ben Simmons.

Philly battled for the whole game but did not have enough as they were outscored 27-16 in the fourth and fell to Milwaukee 118-109.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom Line of Philly’s loss to Milwaukee:

The Great for the 76ers:

-Tyrese Maxey did everything in his power to lead the Sixers to victory. The second-year guard led Philadelphia with a game-high-tying and season-high 31 points (12-24 FG), including a career-best four made threes, along with five boards and four assists. Maxey set a new single-quarter career-high with 17 points in the first period (7-9 FG, 3-4 3FG).

-Georges Niang scored 12 of his season-high 21 points against the Bucks off the bench, including five threes. According to Stathead, this is the 22nd time of Niang’s career where he has scored at least 10 points in a half.

-Andre Drummond has been great this season. He had another double-double with 17 points, a game-high 20 rebounds, and two blocks. This is Drummond’s second straight game of at least 20 rebounds(25 rebounds against Knicks on Monday night), leaving him tied for the fifth-most double-digit rebounding games in the league this year. Through 12 games, Drummond is the second player with consecutive games of at least 10 points and 20 rebounds.

-Shake Milton started for the injured Seth Curry and had a solid performance with 20 points, six assists, and four rebounds.

Not so Great for the 76ers:

Philadelphia did not shoot the ball all that great on Tuesday night, which is understandable. The 76ers shot 41% from the field.

Bottom Line:

Look, it would have been amazing if the 76ers had won this game, and while there are no moral victories in this league, Philadelphia might have earned a moral victory. Without Embiid and Harris, it’s going to be tough, but maybe they can find a way to steal a few games without their top players.

“I don’t know if anything surprises me with these guys,” 76ers head coach Doc Rivers said postgame. “They play hard; they try to figure it out… Tyrese [Maxey] was sensational tonight, kept attacking, Georges [Niang] gave us everything he had, I thought [Drummond] offensively on the glass was really good.”

What’s Next:

Philadelphia finishes their three-game homestand on Thursday night against the Raptors.

Best of the Rest:

Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee with 31 points and 16 rebounds. Antetokounmpo has now scored at least 30 points in four games this season; Grayson Allen set a season-high with 25 points in the game, and Bobby Portis added 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Giannis: ‘I made my free throws tonight, and I’m a freaking champion’

The Milwaukee Bucks are NBA champions, and the main reason is their star Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP had 50 points(17-19 FT), 14 rebounds, and five blocks shots as the Bucks defeated the Suns 105-98 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum on Tuesday night.

After losing the first two games of this series, Milwaukee, who got their first NBA title since 1971, won four straight to win the series 4-2.

Antetokounmpo, named Finals MVP, scored 33 points in the second half of Game 6, which marked the second time he scored 30-plus points in the second half of a game in this series. According to Elias Sports, Antetokounmpo is the first player to record multiple 30-point halves in a single NBA Finals over the last 40 years. Additionally, he’s the seventh player in the history of the NBA to score 50 points in the Finals.

When Antetokounmpo hyperextended his left knee against the Hawks in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals, many thought he would not be able to get back on the court again this season, but he got back on the court and averaged 35.5 points on 62% shooting from the field, 13.5 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game in the Finals. 

It’s been a long journey for the “Greek Freak” to an NBA title, and according to him, he was not sure it would happen.

“I started playing basketball just to help my family,” he said after the game. “Tried to get them out of the struggle, the challenges we were facing when we were kids. But I never thought I’m going to be 26 years old, with my team playing the NBA Finals. Just playing — like, I was just happy just being like not even winning, just being a part of this, of this journey. But I never thought I would be sitting here with this right here and this right here (the championship and MVP trophies.) We’ve come a long way.”

Antetokounmpo has had his struggles from the free-throw line throughout his career, but he quieted a lot of people by going 17-19 from the line on Tuesday night, which he discussed postgame.

“People told me I cannot make free throws,” he said. “I made my free throws tonight, and I’m a freaking champion. I made them when I’m supposed to make them. I’m joking — actually, I’m not (laughter).”

Before the start of the season, the five-time All-Star signed a five-year, $228 million extension, the largest contract in league history. After some playoffs failures, including losing to the Heat in the second round of the playoffs last season, some thought Antetokounmpo would go elsewhere, but he stayed in Milwaukee, and now he’s a champion.

“But coming back, I was like, this is my city,” he said. “They trust me. They believe in me. They believe in us. Even when we lost, the city was still — went outside, and you know, obviously, I wanted to get the job done. But that’s my stubborn side. It’s easy to go somewhere and go win a championship with somebody else. It’s easy. I could go — I don’t put — I could go to a super team and just do my part and win a championship, but this is the hard way to do it, and this is the way to do it, and we did it. (Expletive) did it. We did it, man.”

Antetokounmpo was remarkable in this series, and with the help of Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, and others, he’s finally a champion.

 

 

Giannis on block on Ayton: ‘I thought I was going to get dunked on’

If the Phoenix Suns fall short in the NBA Finals, they might look back at Game 4. Phoenix built a nine-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but Devin Booker, who had a bounce-back game with 42 points after scoring 10 points on Sunday, had to leave with his fifth foul with over 11 minutes left in the fourth.

When Booker returned midway through the fourth, the Suns still had a three-point lead, but Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton turned it on. He scored 14 of his 40 points in the final quarter, including the game-winner with just over a minute left in the contest as Milwaukee defeated Phoenix 109-103 at Fiserv Forum on Wednesday night to tie the series up at 2.

“As far as the fourth quarter, late in the fourth quarter, we just ran sets that allowed me to get to my spots,” Middleton said. “After that, I just got to make reads. Whether to shoot, whether to find an open guy, Giannis(Antetokounmpo) on a roll. It’s just reading the defense at that point. Just luckily, thankfully, I hit some shots.”

Giannis Antetokounmpo added on Middleton: “But that’s what he does down the stretch. We want him to have the ball. We want him to be the decision-maker. We know he’s going to take big shots, and tonight he was incredible.”

It was not all about Middleton in the fourth. With the Bucks up 101–99 late in the game, Antetokounmpo, who had 26 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists in Game 4, made the defensive play of the game and maybe the series. Booker threw an alley-oop pass to Deandre Ayton, and the first-team all-defensive player made a fantastic block, which saved the game and maybe the series for the Bucks.

“Just a hustle play,” Antetokounmpo said on the block. “I thought I was going to get dunked on, to be honest with you. But you know, going down the stretch, do whatever it takes to win the game. Just put yourself in a position that can win the game. I saw the play coming. I saw that Chris(Devin Booker) was going to throw the lob, and I was just going to jump vertical toward the rim. Hopefully, I can be there in time, and I was there in time and was able to get a good block and go down and get two points. So it was a great hustle play.”

Watch below:

While Booker shined for Phoenix, Chris Paul struggled. He had 10 points(5/13 shooting), seven assists, and five turnovers. The most significant turnover was with 32.4 seconds left and the Suns trailing 101-99. Paul would lose the ball, and ultimately Middleton would put the game away with a layup in transition.

“It was me. I had five of them,” Paul said about the turnovers. “It was bad decision making. That time we were down two, and I tried to cross over right there, slipped, turned it over. I had some bad passes in the first half.”

Game 5 is Saturday night in Phoenix. It’s the best of three at this point. The Suns had an excellent opportunity to win Game 4 and wasted an outstanding performance by Booker, but now they go back to Phoenix and hope to get right. For the Bucks, they have been in an 0-2 hole before and know what it takes to get out of it.

Notes: 

-Antetokounmpo left the game at the 8:29 mark of the first quarter in Game 4. The reason why? He had to “tinkle.”

“How do you guys say politely? I wanted to take a tinkle. A tinkle,” he said. “I wanted to take a tinkle and came back (laughter). That’s polite, right?

-According to Elias Sports, Booker had the most points in Finals history by a player with 10 or fewer points in the previous game.