The Milwaukee Bucks will head to the State Farm Arena to face the Atlanta Hawks for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals with a 3-2 lead on Saturday night. Despite Giannis Antetokounmpo being out, the Bucks won Game 5 123-112 behind 111 points from their starting five. The Bucks are now 7-1 at home these playoffs.
Jrue Holiday has been up and down these playoffs for the Bucks as their replacement for Eric Bledsoe. In the first two playoff series for the Bucks, he averaged around 15 points and six assists.
In Game 5, Holiday was fantastic with 25 points and 13 assists. He was aggressive from the opening tip-off getting to the basket and getting his teammates involved.
This was the first time in Bucks history that a player has had multiple 25-point, 10-assist games in the playoffs.
When asked by TNT co-host Charles Barkley why he isn’t more confident, Holiday said:
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“I don’t know. My family keeps telling me to be. I know what I can do when I am.”
It paid dividends for a Bucks team that got hit in the mouth early in Game 4 and needed to be aggressive early. This effort was contagious with role players across Milwaukee’s roster.
Bobby Portis Jr. had a playoff career-high with 22 points and a fiery performance, getting the crowd riled up and chanting his name. Portis is the spark plug for the Bucks, and you could feel it in the arena when he got going. Everyone got going.
For the Hawks, they went down big early and couldn’t ever recover. Bogdan Bogdanovic had 28 points but really wasn’t hitting shots consistently until it was too late.
Kevin Huerter finished with 8 points and started 0-5 from the field. Danillo Gallinari was impressive off the bench with 19 points in 23 minutes, but the rest of the bench only produced 15.
Jrue Holiday set the tone for the team early but getting Brook Lopez involved was huge for the Bucks as he poured in 33 points and was very efficient, shooting 14-18 from the floor.
Lopez had the 4th best shooting percentage (77.8%) ever in a 30 point playoff game for the Bucks. With Giannis out, Lopez took advantage of an opening in the paint and scored 26 of his 33 points in the paint.
That is tied with Giannis for the 2nd-most points in the paint by a Bucks player in a playoff game over the last 25 postseasons.
As has been the case since Donte DiVincenzo went down, Milwaukee’s bench was non-existent. The starting five contributed all but 11 points of their 123 in Game 5.
My pick to win Game 5 hinges heavily on the two stars for either team. If Giannis is able to play and Young isn’t, I expect this series to end in Atlanta.
If Trae Young plays or if both stars are out, I like Atlanta to push this series to a Game 7. Role players play better at home, and I don’t expect Huerter to shoot 3-12 from the field back in Atlanta.
If Antetokounmpo is out for Game 6, the Bucks need to do more of the same. Jrue Holiday needs to be aggressive, finding his own shot while getting in the paint and finding Lopez.
It’s really impossible for the Bucks to have any faith in their bench. They are just too inconsistent. If their bench scores more than 20 points, this series will be over.
The Hawks need to come out aggressive as they did in Game 4 and punch the Bucks early. Once they get that crowd into the game with their 3-point shooting, it’s hard to stop.
I would take the Atlanta Hawks money line as I see their role players stepping up at home to push this series back to Milwaukee for a Game 7.