Chris Paul has heard the criticism: he has a team high 13 points plus four assists after a somewhat sluggish start.
You’ll never (i.e. probably) guess this but Giannis has the game-high halftime point total with 17.
Well it was all about the second quarter, where the Suns sprung to life and the Bucks seemed to finally start to sputter. The Phoenix have a thin lead but it’s looking like this one’s going to be close all the way through.
End of the 1st half: Suns 47-42 Bucks
Suns 47-42 Bucks, end of the first half
Giannis gets called for a block but the Suns get called for a 24 second violation that ends the possession before he do anything with it. Middleton misses on his end. Paul scores again and it’s looking like he doesn’t want his best shot at a ring to end tonight. Shot clock off, Bucks have possession and Paul picks up his second foul and Middleton gets on the line. That’s a good final possession for Milwaukee, especially as Middleton hits both. Suns fail to draw a foul, it comes but it comes after the buzzer so that’s that.
Suns 45-40 Bucks, 45.3, 2nd quarter
Oh now we’re doing the scoring thing I guess. Giannis scores, Paul finds Ayton for a layup and Brook Lopez scores… no he’s called for offensive goaltending?
That seems like a super-iffy call.
Suns 43-40 Bucks, 1:46, 2nd quarter
Chris Paul with a jumper, Giannis with a layup. Paul immediately answers. This is more like the series I was expecting.
This tweet echoes my thoughts on the commentary crew deciding to throw in a Dr. Fauci joke about this possibly being a super-spreader event.
Suns 39-36 Bucks, 3:11, 2nd quarter
The free throws are a big part in the Phoenix comeback here. Ayton gets to the line and gets both. Giannis knows he has to answer here and he does with a hookshot to keep pace.
Suns call a timeout after a few misses for both teams.
Suns 37-34 Bucks, 3:52, 2nd quarter
Giannis to the line and now he misses one… but makes the second, it’s a single-point Phoenix lead.
Never mind, Paul with a jumper to extend things!
Suns 35-33 Bucks, 4:18, 2nd quarter
And Ayton gets to the line, that’s a foul on Middleton, and he makes his free throws and Phoenix has a lead. Game Seven is back on the table.
Suns 33-33 Bucks, 5:20, 2nd quarter
And hat was coming. Chris Paul dusts off the cobwebs and makes a layup and it’s a tied game. Brutal quarter for the Bucks.
Suns 31-33 Bucks, 6:21, 2nd quarter
Bridges cuts the Bucks lead back to three points, Milwaukee has let the momentum slip. He then gets on the line after a Portis foul and makes one-of-two. Just two points now.
Suns 28-33 Bucks, 6:43, 2nd quarter
“Dr. Fauci is cringing!” the announcers joke as they show a shot of the fans outside the stadium. Yeah this is super-funny joke material, guys. Portis gets on the line and makes two free throws but Booker responds quickly with a basket.
Suns 26-31 Bucks, 7:32, 2nd quarter
Oh never mind, Portis is the stopper here scoring off a Holiday assist.
Suns 26-29 Bucks, 8:25, 2nd quarter
Jae Crowder is one the line and he hits both and this is a one-possession game somehow now.
Suns 24-29 Bucks, 8:47, 2nd quarter
Giannis with another block, the Bucks could do with some scoring in the second though. Connaughton attempts a long three and he doesn’t make it. It’s going good for Phoenix’s Camerons: Johnson hits a three pointer to cut the Bucks lead to five as Milwaukee has gone quiet on offense.
Lopez gets called for a foul and wants an explanation, so we get a Bucks timeout.
Suns 21-29 Bucks, 10:17, 2nd quarter
Payne scores once again, this is a three-pointer, and Giannis gets called for travelling. Solid start for the Suns.
Suns 18-29 Bucks, 10:34, 2nd quarter
That was the lowest scoring first quarter of the Suns’ playoff run and it felt like it. Both teams look not great to start the second. Payne, Phoenix’s leading scorer so far, gets things going finally.
The Suns looked super-washed there in the first quarter after a series where they’ve been fighting the whole way through. Milwaukee has to love what they’re seeing.
Suns 16-29 Bucks, end of the 1st quarter
Lopez tips in a rare Giannis missed layup to complete the scoring and despite an inept start scoring-wise, Bucks have a 13 point lead. Can they maintain it for three more quarters is the question.
Suns 16-27 Bucks, 45.2, 1st quarter
Giannis with a score but Payne gets his second straight basket. Ayton gets called for a foul that puts Giannis back on the line and he gets his third and fourth free throws.
Suns 14-21 Bucks, 2:07, 1st quarte
“Music by Robin Thicke.” There is no way in the world he is actually still making music, we are living in a simulation, this is clear
Out of the break Ayton misses a layup, gets the rebound, gets it to Booker… who misses a three. Welp, back to the drawing board I guess.
The Bucks can’t score however and this time Cameron Payne hits a three that’s immediately answered by this Bobby Portis guy.
Suns 11-18 Bucks, 3:09, 1st quarter
Frank Kaminsky is on the Bucks? Frank Kaminsky is on the Bucks. I may have noted his presence in Game 1 but that feels like aeons ago for me.
Bobby Portis with a three. It’s time for a Phoenix timeout.
Suns 11-15 Bucks, 4:05, 1st quarter
Middleton gets called on a foul. The crowd doesn’t like that. Pat Connaughton gets called on a foul on a Deandre Ayton layup. The crowd really doesn’t like that. He misses the foul shot. They’re okay with that.
Crowder with a jumper gets the Suns closer, but he then gets called for a second foul.
Suns 7-15 Bucks, 4:51, 1st quarter
Bridges makes a jumper and then Middleton racks up five straight points, because he’s just been racking them up like that.
Suns 5-10 Bucks, 5:54, 1st quarter
So little offense to start this game that I couldn’t find an in-game picture to put here on the front. This is better: Middleton finds Holiday for an immediate score and on the other end he gets a steal and a dunk to give the Bucks a push.
Suns 5-6 Bucks, 6:51, 1st quarter
The Suns are now 1-for-8 and clearly settling. The Bucks should capitalize… but instead they turn it over. Weight of history weighing them down? Chris Paul, who should feel that more than anybody, hits a three and the Bucks call a timeout and have a discussion about what the heck is going on with their possessions.
Suns 2-6 Bucks, 7:58, 1st quarter
Jae Crowder gets called on a foul. Giannis’s first free throw rolls around the rim an then falls in. His second is straight money.
Suns 2-4 Bucks, 8:43, 1st quarter
Jrue Holiday to Brook Lopez to break the scoring drought. Lopez also gets a steal on the other end.
Suns 2-2 Bucks, 9:17, 1st quarter
24 second violation for the Bucks, a few misses back-to-back. Both offenses a little nervous here to stop. One imagines things will settle down as the game goes on.
Suns 2-2 Bucks, 10:48, 1st quarter
Bucks don’t score on the first possession, but on the next Giannis blocks a shot and takes it back to the other end for a score. The crowd is loud but Booker silences them.
Suns 0-0 Bucks, 11:37, 1st quarter
The crowd is loud and chanting. We have started! Chris Paul misses, the Milwaukee crowd loves it!
“65,000 expected outside.” Hey this would be really cool to see like summer two years ago, it’s borderline scary right now and it’s weird that the broadcast is just skipping over this fact!
Okay now we get the Official Real Actual NBA Montage, complete with the Spike Lee intro.
Of course, these days I immediately associate Spike Lee with commercials so it took me a second.
I keep thinking that these commercials featuring basketball playeers are the Official NBA Montages. It’s just impossible to separate Content and Advertising these days.
And we’re at the official game time. We’ll be tipping off… at some point in the next twenty minutes. I don’t know anymore when it comes to these ABC broadcasts.
Oh, it should also be noted that Scott Foster is one of the officials in Game 6. He and Chris Paul have some, uh, history. So look forward to some conspiracy theories if the Suns lose tonight.
Phoenix Suns starters
The Suns starters have been great, so no surprise here. They’re going to need a better showing from their bench, however.
Chris Paul, PG
Devin Booker, SG
Mikal Bridges, SF
Jae Crowder, PF
Deandre Ayton, C
I don’t see Booker going on scoring binges because I don’t think the post-Shaq Kobe is the type of player the Suns need if they want to extend this series. Meanwhile, the Bucks are doing quite well if Giannis playing the way he’s playing.
Milwaukee Bucks starters
They rightfully believe that there’s no reason for them to change their starting lineup.
Jrue Holiday, PG
JR Tucker, PF
Khris Middleton, SG
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF
Brook Lopez, C
Email from Ronald Mazerolle:
I still feel that the Suns are going to win the series. GO BUCKS GO!!!
I am not going to lie, this definitely feels like an NBA Finals that should go seven games, it’s been incredible on a game-to-game basis.
I am not going to lie I am not entirely comfortable with this image hitting my Twitter timeline directly alongside the latest horrifying news about the spread of the Delta variant.
Bill Walton is the next guest on this pre-NBA Finals Anthony Anderson talk show which is making me wonder why we don’t just get a half-hour of Bill Walton discussing… I dunno… which of the Grateful Dead keyboardists best represent each of the Phoenix Suns starters. “Jae Crowder is Brent Mydland, he will go for the three-ball every time and it’s cringeworthy when he misses but when he is hitting ooh baby the whole group is lifted.”
This is one of the most impressive lists of celebrities to ever be in one place in Milwaukee.
Chris Tucker is also the guest in this pre-NBA Finals episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live But Actually Hosted By Anthony Anderson. I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s pre-recorded.
I voted for the Suns to win it, albeit in five games. Unless time is flowing differently than it normally does and we’re in some kind of Philip K. Dick situation, that’s not going to happen. Still, if the Suns force Game 7 and then win this whole thing then I’m just going to look like a coward. I’m saying Suns win this game and go on to win this series.
If the Suns were ahead of this series, and if a few more baskets had gone their way in Game 5 that’s what we would be looking at here, we’d be talking about Devin Booker as if he were a Finals MVP frontrunner. Instead, we’re looking at him as possibly being a problem with the Suns, despite the fact that he bounced back from a dismal Game 3 to have back-to-back nights where he scored 40 points and yet—like his fantastic near-dunk on Saturday—it won’t count if the Bucks complete their mission in today’s game.
I don’t know: maybe there is a Phoenix Suns curse. They came into the NBA Finals as heavy favorites because it looked like Giannis Antetokounmpo was going to be too injured to be anything close to 100%. Now, by Game 2, Giannis was looking like his old self, but Phoenix still managed to put together a 2-0 lead. Even when the Bucks tied it up 2-2, the Suns were headed home for Game 5 and looked like they had a good chance to pull up 3-2 and still have a potential Game 7 at home.
Instead, after a spiriting comeback attempt came short on Saturday, the Suns are heading back to Milwaukee and the Bucks have a chance to prevent this series from lasting seven. It feels like this could be another brutal finish for a Phoenix team that hasn’t won a championship in its history despite having the peaks of Charles Barkley (whose career as a gaffe-prone analyst has overshadowed his life as a dominant player during the 1990s) and Steve Nash (whose “Seven-Seconds-Or-Less Suns” never won a ring, but revolutionized professional basketball during their lifespan). It also would mean that the Point God Chris Paul would have struck out in his best chance to win his only ring. (Barkley too has experience with this.)
Of course, it’s not like the Bucks have had a history of nonstop success since they last won a championship with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in the 1970s. If they win it will be a remarkable achievement, especially after being completely outplayed (lest we forget) in the first two games of the series. There’s no doubt that Antetokounmpo—playing an all-around fantastic game, providing both clinching dunks and key blocks—is geared up for an NBA Finals trophy but my lord can we say a few words for Khris Middleton who has been Milwaukee’s best scorer for much of this three-game winning streak? He should be regarded as a star following this postseason.
So will the Bucks seal a championship or will the Suns force an Epic Game Seven? We don’t know, but the Larry O’Brien Trophy is in the building and that always makes things more exciting! If you want to contribute to today’s liveblog this could be the last time, maybe the last time this year, I don’t know! Email your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @HunterFelt and we’ll use them as we go on. It’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks! Official tip-off time is 9:00 pm EST but national TV coverage means it’ll probably be a tad later and—either way—we’ll be back a lot sooner!
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