The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from securing their first championship in 50 years, which they’ll have a chance to do on their home court in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Phoenix Suns lost three games in a row and find themselves on the brink of elimination with a “win or go home” situation down 3-2 in the NBA Finals.
Giannis “Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are riding high on a three-game winning streak and have a chance to buck history. In total, 35 teams in NBA history fell into an 0-2 hole to start the NBA Finals, including this year’s Bucks. Only four of them stormed back to win the championship. If the Bucks win this year, they’ll become the fifth team to win a championship after losing the first two games on the NBA Finals.
|NBA Finals Game 6: Phoenix Suns (2-3) vs. Milwaukee Bucks (3-2)|
- Tip-off: 6:00 pm PT
- Location: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee, WI
- Point Spread: MIL -5
- Total: 222 o/u
- Money Line: PHX +170 / MIL -200
- Series Line: PHX +330 / MIL -420
The home team won the first four games of this series before the Bucks went on the road to win Game 5 in Phoenix.
The Bucks are -5 favorites heading into Game 6. The Suns are now +330 odds as an underdog to win the 2021 NBA championship, whereas the Bucks are now a heady -420 odds to win the title.
Suns: Must-win Game 6
If the Suns can’t slow down the Bucks, then they’ll have to win a shootout. The Giannis Wall slowed down Antetokounmpo after he torched them for 83 points in Games 2 and 3, but the Bucks’ backcourt killed the Suns in the last two games. Middleton dropped 40 points in Game 4, while Jrue Holiday and Middleton combined for 58 points in Game 5. Holiday also had the key steal of the series in the closing minute of Game 5; that led to an alley-oop dunk for Antetokounmpo to seal the victory.
In the first two games of the NBA Finals, the Bucks couldn’t stop Chris Paul, especially on the pick-and-roll. He averaged 27.5 ppg and 8.5 assists per game in both of Phoenix’s wins. At that point, it looked like the Suns were going to sweep the Bucks and Paul would walk away with the NBA Finals MVP.
Paul hasn’t looked good in the last few games. Insiders think he’s nursing some sort of hand or wrist injury, which would make sense considering he’s had 16 turnovers since Game 2. But credit the Bucks for playing better defense on Paul. They’ve been picking him up from baseline to baseline and not giving him any wiggle room.
The Suns hope that the same Paul, who lit up the LA Clippers for 41 points in their series close-out game, shows up in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
Bucks: One more W
The Bucks won’t let the 3-2 lead in the NBA Finals get to their heads.
“I kind of try to focus on the moment, in the present,” said Antetokounmpo after Game 5’s win. “That’s humility. That’s being humble. Not setting expectations. That’s going out there, enjoying the game, competing at a high level.”
Holiday has been the real X-factor in the NBA Finals for the Bucks. When Holiday plays well — on both ends of the court — the Bucks thrive.
“One of the things we talk about all the time in the locker room is aggressive Jrue,” said Middleton. “When he’s aggressive, he’s one of the tougher point guards to handle with his size, his athleticism, his skill set. He can do so many things on the court when he’s aggressive and getting to the paint, hitting shots like we saw tonight and finding guys. He’s a balanced player and really skilled player that we’re lucky to have.”
Holiday averages 17.7 ppg in the NBA Finals. Even though he scored 27 points in Game 5, the “steal” is what everyone has been talking about since Saturday night.
Booker drove the lane with a chance to put the Suns ahead in the final minute, but Holiday forced a steal. “He came from behind and ripped the ball out,” said Antetokounmpo.
“Strong hands and got in there and took it,” said head coach Mike Budenholzer.
“It was a defensive play of the year,” said Pat Connaughton. “It just kind of shows we’re built on defense. The last two games, we’ve had a big defensive stop to kind of push us over the hump.”
Check out more coverage of the 2021 NBA Finals.