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MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – JULY 01: Bogdan Bogdanovic #13 of the Atlanta Hawks drives to the basket against Brook Lopez #11 of the Milwaukee Bucks during the second half in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Finals at Fiserv Forum on July 01, 2021 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo : Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
No Giannis, no problem. The Milwaukee Bucks moved to within a victory of their first NBA Finals berth in nearly half a century after recording an emphatic 123-112 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at the Fiserv Forum on Thursday.
Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis played the game of their lives for the Bucks, who now hold a 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even without two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo who was sidelined with a hyperextended left knee, the Bucks stamped their class over the Hawks as they led wire-to-wire in the pivotal Game 5.
They finally got off to a good start in this series, racing to a 30-10 lead in the first quarter and maintaining that advantage the rest of the way.
Lopez and Portis dominate in Game 5 win
Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis stepped up big time in the absence of Antetokounmpo, dominating Atlanta’s big men throughout the contest as they both scored playoff career-high numbers.
Lopez scored 33 points on an incredible 14 of 18 shooting from the field. He also grabbed seven boards and was a menace on the defensive end, swatting away four blocks. On the other hand, Portis excelled in his first career playoff start, racking up 22 points and eight rebounds.
Two other starters scored in double figures for the Bucks, namely Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton. Holiday recorded 25 points, six rebounds and 13 assists in a brilliant all-around performance, while Middleton came two assists shy of a triple-double, finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight dimes. It was the first time in these playoffs that both Holiday and Middleton scored at least 25 points in a single game.
Many were expecting the Bucks’ frontcourt to suffer from the absence of Giannis in Game 5. The opposite happened as Milwaukee wreaked havoc inside the paint against Atlanta. The tone of the game was set in the first quarter as the Bucks outscored the Hawks, 28-8, inside the shaded area during that period. The Bucks continued their inside dominance the rest of the game, finishing the contest with a remarkable 66-36 edge in the paint.
That helped offset the Bucks’ shooting woes from the perimeter. They made their first two attempts from beyond the arc but missed their next 12, finishing the game with a 31 percent clip (9 of 29) from the three-point area.
Will Trae Young finally return in Game 6?
The question now for the Hawks is will Trae Young start in Game 6 with their tournament lives hanging in the balance. Young has missed the last two games due to a bone bruise in his right foot after accidentally stepping on a referee’s foot along the sideline in Game 3. Nate McMillan expects Young to be a game-time decision for Game 6, to be played in Atlanta on Saturday.
One guy who needs to step up for Atlanta is Kevin Huerter. He was a non-factor in Game 5, scoring just eight points on 3 of 12 shooting from the field. He failed to bring some support to Bogdan Bogdanovic, who top-scored for the Hawks with 28 points.
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