Infrequently do teams facing elimination in a Game 5 rally after falling behind by 20 points or more after halftime. That wasn’t the case for the Orlando Magic, who trimmed a 21-point deficit to three with under eight minutes remaining in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s Game 5. The Milwaukee Bucks, however, made sure a Game 6 wouldn’t be necessary, as they regained control to finish off the Magic, 118-104, and advance to the conference semifinals where they will take on the Miami Heat. For the second straight year, the Magic lost in the first round in five games after winning Game 1.
Down just three, the Magic had an opportunity to reclaim possession after Brook Lopez missed a 3-pointer with 7:20 left in the game. However, the Bucks collected two straight offensive rebounds, which allowed Marvin Williams, who formerly played under Steve Clifford in Charlotte, to drill one of his four triples. That started a 9-0 Milwaukee run, and Orlando was unable to dig up enough energy to rally again. With Giannis Antetokounmpo on the bench due to foul trouble, the Magic used a 14-4 run early in the fourth to pull within three after trailing by as much as 21 earlier in the second half.
If the Magic were completely healthy – meaning they had Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Al-Farouq Aminu, Mo Bamba and Michael Carter-Williams in this series – how much more competitive would this series have been? It’s an interesting question, especially because Gordon, Isaac and Aminu have all had success guarding Antetokounmpo in the past. Carter-Williams is also a great defender, and Bamba would have certainly helped space the floor and protect the rim. The Magic gave a great effort despite all the absences. Few gave Orlando a chance of winning a single game in this series, which they did.
In the series, the Magic buried 75 3-pointers, which is impressive. They had to make a ton of threes to be competitive considering the Bucks make it very tough to score in the paint. The problem was Milwaukee made even more shots from downtown. The Bucks sank 79 3-pointers. Orlando averaged just 28.0 points in the paint this series, which clearly wasn’t enough to keep up with Milwaukee. The Magic only had 11 turnovers in Game 5, five fewer than Game 4, and the Bucks scored just nine fast break points.
Kudos to the Magic’s bench. Orlando outscored Milwaukee by 15 when Khem Birch was on the court, 12 when Terrence Ross was out there and 10 when Wes Iwundu was on the floor. D.J. Augustin also had a solid performance with 15 points. Although he wasn’t as efficient compared to his first four games of the series, Nikola Vucevic led the Magic with 22 points, 15 rebounds and five assists.
The NBA playoffs resumed Saturday after team owners, league executives, players and coaches agreed to a new series of social justice efforts. As part of the agreement, the league announced a plan to convert team arenas into voting locations for the 2020 general election. Saturday’s Game 5 between the Magic and Bucks was originally going to be played this past Wednesday. However, the Bucks, with the support of all the other teams, boycotted the game following the police shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is about 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Quote of the Night
“I think we took a step forward this year compared to last year. I know we still lost four-one, but it was a much better showing. Except Game 3, we were fighting all five games…I think we learned from last year. We were better this year. Obviously, there is still a lot of work to do. We exited again in the first round. There are things that we need to get better at and stuff we need to improve on if we want to move forward…I’m still very proud of my teammates, very proud of all we did, fighting through a lot of ups and downs this season, a lot of injuries, a lot of adversity…I thought we put up a good fight. I’m very proud of my teammates and I’m very proud to have been a part of this team.” - Vucevic