It is unfortunate that Kyrie Irving has been ruled out for Game 5 with an ankle sprain, and his status is unknown for the rest of the series. However, this is what the Bucks desperately needed to stay in this series and even win it. The Bucks Eastern Conference hopes lie in these next few games.
Recap of Games 3 and 4
In Game 3, the Bucks were nearly unstoppable in the first quarter and the entirety of the game when they had the lead. When I mean the “Bucks”, I really mean just Giannis Antetokounmpo (33 points) and Khris Middleton (35 points). They were the ONLY reason why the Bucks even had a chance this game, as they accounted for 79% of the total points scored.
What was the rest of the team doing? Did they decide to take the game off and let the two stars carry the load for the night? Whatever it was, they were very very lucky that the Nets roleplayers were just as bad.
Regardless of the poor offensive play, the Bucks defense was impeccable down the stretch in the 4th quarter. They were able to take the ball out of KD’s hands and force Bruce Brown to take a bad shot on the final play of the game.
In Game 4 everyone was unstoppable, it seemed like NOBODY in a white uniform could miss. The Bucks had 5 players in double digits compared to the Nets’ 2 players. It was an abysmal offensive performance for the Nets after Irving went down. Losing their 2 main playmakers the Nets were forced to run the offense through KD, who is not known for getting others involved as well as Irving and Harden.
Bucks Eastern Conference Chances
Even though the Nets clamped up KD last game, he still dropped 28 points. Now that the two key playmakers are injured, KD will be playing with an intensity and fire that we have not seen in a long time. I expect him to make the Bucks’ life difficult in terms of guarding him, but he can only do so much. If the Nets want a remote shot at winning this game and the series, the roleplayers need to step it up and knock down their shots.
The Bucks Eastern Conference life is on it’s last limb and they need a big win here.
The Bucks are in a prime position to take this series over because of how bad the Nets bench really is. Giannis almost always constantly draws a double team, leaving his teammates open for wide-open shots. If they start hitting from three it will be a long game for the Nets and almost impossible to make a comeback on.
“Bucks in Six!”
Milwaukee fans were chanting “Bucks in Six!” as the game clock was ticking down to close out game 4 and tie the series at 2 a piece. To be quite frank, I think this could be the case. Without Kyrie Irving and James Harden the Nets are at a complete loss for playmakers. Spencer Dinwiddie suffered an injury at the beginning of the season that has kept him out for the entirety of the regular season and playoffs. Not to mention the only other good playmaker that was on this team to start the season was traded away for Harden.
If the Bucks can continue to make life difficult on Kevin Durant, they will have no problems being able to snatch a road victory. However, as we have seen time and time again during his career, that is nearly impossible to do. The Bucks Eastern Conference champion odds are growing and growing.
The X-Factor for the Bucks is not Giannis, it is actually Khris Middleton. When he plays well, the Bucks are basically a completely new team. When he does not play well, the Bucks are a bottom-feeder team. He needs to be more consistent and understand that his performance determines the outcome of the game.
I think that the Bucks will take Games 5 and 6, if Harden and Irving are not able to be healthy in time. But, will this be enough momentum to finally get the Bucks out of the Eastern Conference? Only time can tell.