Playoffs 2021

NBA Playoffs 2021: Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo come up huge to force Game 7 in Brooklyn

With their season on the line, the Milwaukee Bucks responded.

Holding a double-digit lead for much of the night, the Brooklyn Nets were close to within five points midway through the fourth quarter.

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Unlike Game 5, the Bucks responded, with Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokoumpo coming up huge down the stretch to ensure the series would head to a decider.

The 104-89 win continued the trend of each team holding court, with Milwaukee needing to Buck that trend if they are to return to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in the last three seasons.

Middleton eases the tension

Given what was on the line. It would be hard to argue this wasn't the best performance of Khris Middleton's NBA career. Tallying a playoff career-high 38 points, the smooth-moving Middleton continuously answered the call when it was desperately needed.

The 2-time All-Star finished 11-for-16 from the field, 5-for-8 from three and 11-for-12 from the free-throw line, with key buckets coming at all the important moments.

When Brooklyn closed to within 46-41 with four minutes to play in the first half, it was Middleton who scored 11 of the Bucks' final 13 points to ensure Milwaukee held a 59-48 edge at the break.

With 1:27 to play in the third, Brooklyn had once again drawn near, trailing 72-67. Middleton went on a personal 6-0 run to give Milwaukee a 78-67 lead through three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, a Joe Harris triple made it 82-77 with 8:41 to play. On the very next possession, Middleton would draw contact from Harris while shooting a triple. Middleton would hit two of three and eight points down the stretch as the Bucks used that settling moment to gather themselves and close the game.

This was Middleton's night.

Kevin Durant in the fourth

Coming off a historic 49-point performance in Game 5, Kevin Durant was threatening to do the same in this one.

Scoring 12 points in the third quarter, the former MVP had all the classics on display, drilling a series of impossibly tough jump shots as the inevitability of a Brooklyn comeback seemed to rinse over the Milwaukee crowd.

But instead of continuing the momentum into the fourth, the superstar scorer started with an airball on a long-range attempt, before turning the ball over on his next touch and then missing another three on his third touch.

Durant was still immense for much of the night, finishing with 32 points and 11 rebounds on 15-for-30 shooting from the field, but he wasn't historic, and that's what it took in Game 5.

Giannis closes the door

Statistically, it was another monster night for Antetokounmpo, with the 2-time MVP pouring in 30 points, 17 rebounds and three assists. This one felt a little different though.

Dominant inside all series, on this night Antetokounmpo did not attempt a single shot from the outside, instead, exercising patience and sometimes pure brute force to get what he wanted in the paint.

Seven of Antetokounmpo's 30 points came between the 7:30 mark of the fourth and the 4:45 mark when he went to the bench. The Bucks went on a 12-0 run during that stretch with Antetokounmpo going 3-for-3 from the foul line.

It was by far the best night of the series for Antetokounmpo.

Green and Griffin cool off

In Game 5, Jeff Green and Blake Griffin combined to shoot 10-for-14 from beyond the 3-point line. In Game 6, the pair combined to shoot 2-for-8 from three.

When you combine the continued struggles of Joe Harris who was 1-for-4 from three, it was a tough night shooting the ball for the Brooklyn Nets.

The Bucks defence has now held Brooklyn to fewer than 90 points in all three games at home. The question is now whether they can do the same on the road.

Why Jrue keep shooting that?

Bucks guard Jrue Holiday posted his best scoring night of the series, finishing with 21 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. He is still yet to find the range on his 3-point shot, however, connecting on just one of his ten attempts, with seemingly countless step-back jumpers clanging off the rim.

The puzzling aspect was the fact he was 7-for-11 from within the arc, using the combination of change of pace and strength to score at will.

Shot selection for Milwaukee this series continues to puzzle.

Game 7

The series is heading back to Brooklyn, with just one night off before the decider.

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