Saturday night, the Phoenix Suns host the Milwaukee Bucks in game 5 of the NBA Finals.
So far, every game has thrilled fans across the globe, and game 5 should be no different as both teams are looking to take command of the series by securing a third win.
Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned in his inspiring postgame speech that Phoenix’s mistakes in game 4 are “correctable.” And he’s one-hundred percent correct.
Phoenix uncharacteristically lost the turnover battle in their 109-103 loss to Milwaukee. The Suns committed 17 turnovers to Milwaukee’s five.
To fix their turnover woes, Phoenix needs more from Chris Paul tonight.
CP3 scored 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field and committed five turnovers in what was a tough game for the “Point God.”
Jrue Holiday’s harassing of Paul the entire length of the court on the defensive end contributed to the latter’s five turnovers, but Paul’s mistakes were trivial at times.
Despite great defense from Milwaukee—and maybe a few nagging injuries—Chris Paul sets the tone for the rest of the Suns, good or bad.
Without Paul’s usual brand of ball security, there’s no way his team can win this game and the series.
Added note: When Chris Paul takes care of the ball and plays well, Deandre Ayton tends to score more.
Milwaukee’s Foul Shooting
Milwaukee’s leader Giannis Antetokounmpo is a prolific paint scorer. Due to his play inside, he tends to draw plenty of fouls.
However, he is not a great foul shooter. The “Greek Freak” is shooting 63.6 percent from the line in the finals. (up from his 56.8 percent mark over the entire postseason)
To make up for their superstar’s poor shooting from the charity stripe, the rest of the Bucks have to shoot lights out from the line.
It will be challenging for the Bucks to shoot well while being hounded by the fans in the Valley, but this is professional basketball. They are more than capable.
If they can shoot well from the line, they increase their chances to win what should be a close game.
Middleton Repeat Game
Khris Middleton looked like the All-Star, $35 mil per year player we’re accustomed to seeing now and then in Milwaukee.
Middleton took over game 4 with 40 points on 15-of-33 shooting. He also scored 10 points down the stretch in the 4th quarter to ice the game.
Middleton is known for having great games at home in the playoffs, but he’s also known for inconsistencies on the road.
Milwaukee has to win a game in Phoenix to win the series. To win in Phoenix, they need at least one more masterclass game from Khris Middleton.
Deandre Ayton needs to look to score more in game 5. He’s defending the paint and rebounding well, but his scoring is what makes his team go from good to great.
Ayton’s defense of the paint is the toughest assignment for any individual player in the series. However, no matter how fatigued he is, he has to prioritize scoring the ball.
Ayton should be undeterred after shooting 3-for-9 and ending up on the receiving end of one of the most impressive blocks in NBA history.
He should put together a much-improved game tonight.
Prediction & Game Time
In game 4, it took Devin Booker’s benching due to foul trouble to completely halt the Suns’ momentum and give the Bucks control of the game.
Other than that, the Suns played a terrible basketball game and only lost by six points on the road.
I’m taking the Suns (-4) tonight in what should be another close game.
NBA Finals Game 5: Saturday, July 17th 8:30 p.m EST.
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Featured image of the Larry O’Brien trophy courtesy of NBA.com