The Phoenix Suns led by as much as 15 points in Game Five of the 2021 NBA Finals. Yet, they are one loss away from finishing as runners-up to the Milwaukee Bucks.
With Game Six in Milwaukee happening on Tuesday, one can only wonder: Will the Suns set down in Milwaukee, or will Phoenix rise to force a Game Seven?
The Difficult Road Uphill
No. The Suns are anything but out of the series. If anything, the Suns still have the pieces to mount a comeback. However, it’s easier said than done. Why?
Devin Booker had 40 points in Game Five. The Suns shot 64% from the three-point line. And yet, they fell short. A steal from Jrue Holiday led to an alley-oop finish by Giannis Antetokounmpo sealed the 123-119 victory for the Bucks. Antetokounmpo had 32 points, nine rebounds, and six assists in the road win.
However, trying to limit Antetokounmpo’s production isn’t the only priority Coach Monty Williams should have in mind.
Jrue Holiday proved that he is the missing key to unlocking another championship victory for the Bucks. Through five games of the finals, he averaged 17 points, nine assists, five rebounds, and a steal in 40 minutes. Holiday had 27 points, 13 assists, three steals, and a block in Game Five. If anything, he holds the key to the success of the Bucks.
Jrue Holiday is one of the reasons why this uphill road is a difficult one for Phoenix. He makes Chris Paul’s life miserable on the court. How miserable?
Chris Paul only had ten points in Game Four, where he also had five turnovers. While Paul finished with 21 points and 11 assists in Game Five, they weren’t enough.
What Do the Suns Need?
They need the energy to match up against the Big Three of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. Chris Paul needs to remind the Bucks that he is the Point God. They can try to contain Antetokounmpo but not to the point of forgetting the rest of Milwaukee.
They also need to regain the same energy they had in the first two games of the series. Game One saw Phoenix fish 18 Milwaukee fouls that led to 26 free throw attempts. Phoenix also shot 20 for 40 from the three-point line in Game Two.
More importantly, they must have the energy to sustain the run. Otherwise, the Bucks will party as soon as the final buzzer horns in Game Six.