NBA Finals Game 4 reaction: Bucks even up series, put pressure on Suns

Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) dunks during the second quarter against the Phoenix Suns during game four of the 2021 NBA Finals at Fiserv Forum
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Well, the Milwaukee Bucks officially took care of business. After two opening losses that had them on the ropes they successfully defended their home court, winning back-to-back games over the Phoenix Suns. They evened up the NBA Finals with a 109-103 win on Wednesday night in Game 4.

The Bucks went from just about everybody writing them off, to suddenly making this series a toss-up. It should be a thrilling next couple of games, and this one could go the distance. Let’s break down everything we just witnessed, and what it means moving forward:

Khris Middleton heard the talk

Middleton was the butt of a lot of jokes over the past week. Everyone was clowning on him after Game 2, when he scored just 11 points on 5/16 shooting. The narrative was quickly becoming that Giannis Antetokounmpo didn’t have any help, and that his co-stars were MIA.

Middleton has shut them up and then some over the past two games. On Wednesday he was simply phenomenal, scoring 40 points and operating as the team’s clear top offensive option. It showed that the Bucks can win games with someone other than Antetokounmpo carrying them.

If you had said coming into the game that Giannis would score a relatively quiet 26 points, the Suns would have been a pretty heavy favorite. Not when Middleton is on his game. He hit so many shots that the Bucks were able to weather another poor shooting night from Jrue Holiday.

Time and time again in the NBA we’ve seen that one star can’t get it done by himself, no matter how good they are. Antetokounmpo is no exception. He needs his supporting cast to step up, and they’ve been doing so recently.

Now the question is if Middleton can keep that up on the road. The Suns have home-court advantage, so the secondary guys are going to have to play lights out at some point in Phoenix. It remains to be seen whether they can, but for now Middleton deserves all the praise.

The Suns shouldn’t panic

The Suns went from being a massive favorite to win the championship to being a relatively modest -160 one. They’ve gone from having a commanding lead to entering a Game 5 that feels like a must-win. The pressure has shifted entirely from the Bucks back to them.

And yet, they shouldn’t be panicking. Give Milwaukee credit for winning Game 4, but it’s hard to argue the Suns didn’t look like the better team. The Bucks simply stole the game. Phoenix shot 51.3 percent from the floor while Milwaukee shot 40.2 percent.

The reason the Bucks won is because they grabbed a whopping 17 offensive rebounds, and they were +12 in the turnover differential. Both of those numbers feel like flukes that are unlikely to happen again.

Devin Booker snapped out of his slump in a big way, it just unfortunately coincided with off-nights from Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul.

I also find it unlikely that Paul and Ayton are going to combine for 16 points on 8/22 shooting again. There are plenty of reasons for optimism if you’re a Suns fan, so don’t stress too much.

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