Game Four of the 2021 NBA Finals represented and was a lot of different things, but one of the most important things for entertained NBA fans was that it was a close game. In Game One, the Suns won by 13; in Game Two, the Suns won by 10; in Game Three, the Bucks won by 20. However, in Game Four, the game was close throughout, and the outcome of the game never seemed pre-determined. The Bucks defeated the Suns at home 109-103, as the Suns had an off-night and the Bucks thrived at home. Instead of hearing fast counting during free throws, Giannis Antetokounmpo heard MVP chants. Actually, there was one Phoenix fan who was counting, but he was notified by security to stop and was handed a red piece of paper, which can only mean ominous things.
Both teams only played eight players during the game, going with guys they knew they could rely on to make plays and score points. Unfortunately, not all of these players were at their best. Chris Paul only had 10 points, 4 rebounds, and 7 assists, and did not hit a single 3-pointer. Deandre Ayton grabbed an amazing 17 rebounds, but when we look closer, it wasn’t that amazing. Ayton is the only center on the Suns’ roster (Frank Kaminsky is a power forward, technically speaking), so if he didn’t have this many rebounds, it would be a little surprising. Unfortunately, Ayton only had 6 points to go along with his rebounds, as well as 5 assists and 3 blocks.
Devin Booker was the Suns’ sole bright spot in Wisconsin, as he had a Kobe Bryant-esque performance with 42 points. Unfortunately, Booker got into foul trouble at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and spent a lot of time on the bench. Considering Booker had nearly half of his team’s points, this stretch without him hurt the team, and it helped Milwaukee recover. Another thing that helped the Bucks recover was the incredible play of Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton.
Antetokounmpo and Middleton combined to score 66 points in Game Four, with Middleton dropping 40 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists while Antetokounmpo had his usual monster game with 26 points, 14 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Fiserv Forum, where the Bucks play their home games, was incredibly loud, and that noise level was incredibly helpful to the Bucks who needed to win in order to avoid being in a 3-1 hole. Now at 2-2, it’s a whole different series. Middleton plays incredibly well at home, and it certainly showed, as when he made a layup late to preserve the Bucks’ win, the stadium actually shook. Mike Breen, the ESPN Hall-of-Fame play-by-play commentator remarked on how loud Fiserv Forum was that night.
“Man this place is loud.”Mike Breen at the Fiserv Forum during Game Four
The game was close throughout, and at halftime, the score was tied 52-52. At the end of the third quarter, the Suns lead 82-76, and while they tried to preserve this lead, Booker picked up that infamous fifth foul. Although he would come back in after a few minutes, it was then a one-possession game. Going back and forth, the Bucks would regain the lead with a little over 3 minutes left in the 4th quarter off a Pat Connaughton three-pointer. This marked the end of a Bucks 7-0 run, but Booker hit a bank-off-the-glass layup to tie the game at 97. The Suns would score again to make it 99-97, but Middleton, who was thriving the whole game, hit a mid-range jumper to tie it up once more. Another mid-range jumper following this one would give the Bucks a 2-point lead, 101-99, with 1:28 left. Then, with 1:15 left, we would have the…
Play of the Game:
Throughout basketball history, we have seen all kinds of blocks. There have been iconic chase down blocks (think LeBron James and Kobe Bryant), game-winning blocks, come from behind blocks, a block so hard that Shaquille O’Neal couldn’t get the ball out of his hand, and we saw Tracy McGrady jump so high that he just grabbed a shot out of midair without goaltending (Bam Adebayo did something similar). However, one block that I haven’t seen is a blocked lob in mid-air, which is exactly what Antetokounmpo did1.
After Deandre Ayton handed the ball off to Devin Booker and set a pick, he rolled. Antetokounmpo knew that Booker is a lethal scorer, so he came over to play help defense. Booker saw he was out of position and threw Ayton a perfect lob. Unfortunately, Antetokounmpo saw what was happening, recovered, and stopped the shot from going in. This would lead to pandemonium among the fans attending, as the Bucks secured the rebound. However, they missed the shot that would have put them up by two possessions, and the Suns dribbled up-court. Unfortunately, in what may be the biggest moment of his career, Chris Paul tried to split a double-team and slipped, falling on his face, resulting in a turnover (his fifth of the night), and instant panic among the Suns. After the Bucks got the ball, they led a 3-on-1 fast break against poor Booker, who had 5 fouls. Somehow, the refs didn’t call his 6th on a questionable play, although it didn’t matter since the Bucks were now up by 4. The Suns called timeout, and after some made free throws, that was the game. The Suns went from potentially being up 3-1 and having their foot on the Bucks’ throat to an even 2-2, only being 5 fouls, 1 famous block, and 1 infamous block away from a nearly secure championship. Won’t that go down in history for all the wrong reasons?
Home Court Advantage:
Kudos to the Bucks for being able to defend and win at Fiserv Forum the way they did, and to the Suns at Talking Sticks Arena. While neither team has been able to get a win on the road, they have been magnificent at home. However, this will need to change for the Bucks, since if they can’t win on the road, they will not be able to win the championship, and shall be remembered as chokers. Phoenix has more of a luxury here, as since they won 51 games and are a number 2 Seed as compared to Milwaukee winning 46 games and being a number 3 Seed, they have home-court advantage. If it comes down to winning at home, the Suns will win the series, even if it takes a little longer than I predicted.
Milwaukee Crowd Chants:
Instead of chants designed to rattle Antetokounmpo like Phoenix did, the Bucks had two chants that were quite clearly heard throughout the game. The first was “Ref You Suck!” This was yelled a lot during the game, but much of the hatred at the refs came in the 4th quarter, when the game was still undecided and Booker was playing with 5 fouls. The score was 95-92 in favor of Phoenix, but a one-on-one possession between Holiday and Booker should have ended with a blow of the whistle. It did not, although on review, it was clearly a foul. Booker stayed in the game with the Bucks down 95-94, and ultimately, it was not enough. The second chant was “M-V-P,” for Antetokounmpo, who I’m sure would much rather hear that then fast counting at the line.
Quote of the Game:
Although Game Four was a stress-filled and amazing event for fans on both sides, one thing stands out more then anything else, and that is that the Greek Freak has gone out of the game early in the first quarter for the past two games. When asked why, this was his response.
Although it may not look promising for them, I am not switching my prediction of Suns in Six, so we will have to wait and see what happens. Don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!
1: You know how I keep repeatedly saying in these summaries that a certain play in the game was the play of the series? First it was Antetokounmpo’s LeBron-esque block in Game One, then it was Cameron Johnson‘s dunk in Game Three, and now this. Many have debated if Antetokounmpo’s Game Four block was better than James’, and my answer is yes, but only if the Bucks win the championship. I know I say this a lot, but now I am 99.9999999999999% sure that this is the best play we will see all series.