Powered by a slump-busting fourth quarter from All-Star forward Khris Middleton, the Milwaukee Bucks took Game 4 with a 121-106 win over the Orlando Magic.
The Bucks have recovered from their Game 1 defeat to take a commanding 3-1 series lead, putting them one game away from eliminating Orlando.
With a potential closeout Game 5 set for Thursday, here are some takeaways from Milwaukee's win on Tuesday.
1. Make Giannis a jump shooter
The best way to neutralize Giannis Antetokounmpo is to make him a jump shooter. The Magic did that for parts of Game 4 but Giannis ultimately got in the paint far too much for Orlando to steal a win and get back in the series.
The reigning MVP finished the game with 31 points shooting 14-for-21 from the field. He only made two of his baskets outside of the paint.
If the Magic can limit Giannis' paint points they may be able to extend this series.
2. Match energy
There's no stat to quantify this but the Magic had far more energy and matched the Bucks intensity from the start of the game all the way to the final buzzer.
You just have to have so much respect for Steve Clifford. His teams just play with amazing effort defensively for a full 48 minutes. But for the Bucks, it would be hard for a 3-1 lead to be any less convincing.- Kane Pitman (@KanePitman) August 24, 2020
It doesn't take a basketball genius to know that the Magic are overmatched talent-wise so effort and intensity are paramount for them to be competitive in this series. They lacked both in Games 2 and 3, so it was a positive sign for Magic fans to see it return in Game 4.
3. Too many turnovers for the Magic
The Magic were one of the better teams in terms of taking care of the basketball this year only averaging 12.8 turnovers per game - the fourth least in the league.
In Game 4, they had six turnovers after the first quarter and finished the game with 16 total.
Again, for a team that is going to struggle to score against most defences, let alone the best defence in the league, Orlando simply has to be more careful with the rock to give themselves a chance.
4. Can Khris Middleton get going?
Well, we were waiting for Middleton to arrive in the playoffs and he finally did in the fourth quarter of Game 4. Middleton shot 4-for-12 in Game 1, 1-for-8 in Game 2 and started Game 4 just 1-for-9 from the field.
But then, he came alive.
Khris caps an 18-3 run. pic.twitter.com/EchoMeOTwm- Milwaukee Bucks (@Bucks) August 24, 2020
Middleton scored 18 points in the final quarter going 6-for-10 from the field - a welcomed sight for Bucks fans who already have their eye on their potential second-round opponent Miami Heat.
5. Vucevic came to play
The Magic aren't an explosive offensive team, so Nikola Vucevic was always going to have to carry a heavy load on offence to keep them competitive in this series. He's done his part so far and on Tuesday he had another stellar effort.
31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists shooting 55.0 percent from the field, Vooch did everything he could to keep the Magic within striking distance for most of the game.
He'll have to have an even bigger outing in Game 5 to avoid elimination.
6. Orlando's 3-point shooting
The Bucks are going to give up threes by design. In Game 1, the Magic went 16-for-41 from 3-point range stealing a win. In Game 4, they once again found success from three going 18-for-45.
Being successful from the 3-point line is one of the few things the Magic can count on to give the Bucks a competitive game. While they shot the ball well, it didn't work in their favour in Game 4.
If Orlando can shoot the ball well from 3 in Game 5, they may be playing a Game 6 on Saturday instead of packing up their belongings.
Game 5 goes down on Thursday as the Bucks look to close out the series.
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