NBA

NBA Playoffs 2021: Brook Lopez pours in playoff career-high 33 points as Milwaukee Bucks win Game 5

The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 1974.

Injured MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo celebrated the moment with a fist pump, as his teammates took care of business in the 123-112 win.

It was a game for the role players to step up with the Hawks also missing Trae Young with a foot injury. With four players in double-digit scoring it was the Bucks who took advantage and now lead the Eastern Conference Finals 3-2 as the series heads back to Atlanta.

Lopez explodes

The man they call 'Splash Mountain' errupted in Game 5, pouring in a playoff career-high 33 points to go along with seven rebounds and four blocks.

The big man asserted his influence early in this one, rolling to the rim for dunk after dunk as Milwaukee poured on 28 points in the paint in the first quarter alone.

Making the transition to an outside shooter in recent years, it was the Lopez of old who reminded everyone he is still a force in the paint when he needs to be.

The 33 points came on 14-for-16 shooting within the arc, as he failed to connect on his two attempts from long range.

In addition to his offence, Lopez also swatted four shots, oftentimes switching out to the perimeter to defend the Atlanta guards. It was a mammoth performance from Lopez that could easily be described as the biggest game in his decade long NBA career.

Fan favourite delivers

The Bucks had a number of options for replacing Antetokounmpo in the starting lineup but ultimately settled on bench spark plug Bobby Portis.

Portis was all that and more in Game 5, tallying a career playoff high 22 points to go along with eight rebounds and three assists.

Delirious Bucks fans chanted "Bobby, Bobby, Bobby" at various points throughout the night as Portis continuously signalled for the sell out crowd to get loud.

Playing with aggression and physicality, Portis reeled in three of his boards on the offensive glass while also collecting three steals in an impressive all around performance. With Antetokounmpo in major doubt for Game 6, Milwaukee will need this version of Portis as the series moves back on the road for the Bucks.

Jrue and Khris quietly get the job done

While Lopez and Portis stole the show, the star duo of Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton quietly went about their business.

Holiday tallied 25 points, six rebounds and 13 assists, while Middleton stuffed the statsheet with 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.

In many ways, it felt appropriate they duo quietly pieced together monster nights, with the low key personality of the pair often times overshadowed by the thunderous brilliance of Antetokounmpo.

All in all, the quartet of Lopez, Portis, Holiday and Middleton combined for 106 points. That'll do.

Hawks get to the line with Gallinari

Aside from Trae Young, you could easily make the case that Danilo Gallinari has been the Hawks second best player in the series.

Despite threatening to blow the game out in the first half, Atlanta refused to go away, with Gallinari's ability to get to the foul line critical.

The crafty veteran went 7-for-7 from the stripe in the first half as the Hawks held a 16-4 advantage in free-throw attempts through two quarters.

Gallinari would cool off in the second half, finishing the night with 19 points on 5-for-11 shooting.

With the Hawks playing the foul game late, the trend failed to continue in the second half, with the Bucks shooting 25 free-throws to the Hawks 19 by the end of the night.

What's next?

With just one night off before Game 6, the Hawks are in a race against time to get Young healthy enough to hit the court.

The star point guard warmed up prior to Game 5 before deciding he was not healthy enough to play. Unlike this one, the Hawks are now in win-or-go-home mode, with their season possibly hinging on the health of their All-Star.

On the Milwaukee side of things, head coach Mike Budenholzer revealed Giannis failed to take part in any on-court activities prior to Game 5, leaving his availability in the series a little more up in the air.

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