Magic Hang With Bucks For Three Quarters Before Falling in Game 4
Unlike the last two games of this series, the Orlando Magic were within striking distance of the Milwaukee Bucks going into the fourth quarter. They trailed by just three at that point. However, the Bucks, led by their All-Star duo of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, took control in those early minutes of the final frame to pull away from the Magic and win Game 4, 121-106, on Monday at Walt Disney World. As he tends to do, Antetokounmpo filled up the stat sheet with 31 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for Milwaukee, which now has a commanding 3-1 series lead.
Maybe the biggest play of the game occurred in the final seconds of the third quarter. Antetokounmpo, who had missed his first four 3-point attempts, drilled a straightaway triple with 6.6 seconds left that put Milwaukee up by three. It’s a shot Orlando has been willing to give the reigning league MVP all series considering outside shooting is really his only weakness. That basket seemed to ignite the Bucks, who went on an 18-2 run to start the fourth. The Magic didn’t go away quietly, though, as they pulled within seven with four minutes remaining before Milwaukee clamped down defensively. Middleton scored 18 of his 21 points in the fourth.
What’s amazing through the first four games of this series is that the Magic have made 60 3-pointers and are still down 3-1. The Bucks, it’s important to mention, allowed opponents to knock down the most threes in the regular season. But, in the past it would have been unthinkable for a team to sink this many threes through the first four games of a series and still be on the brink of elimination. Milwaukee was the best defensive team in the regular season because of its ability to shut down the paint. That indeed they’ve done, as Orlando scored just 20 points in the paint during Monday’s Game 4 loss and is averaging a 2020 NBA playoff-low 27.0 per game.
Vucevic had another superb performance with 31 points, 11 rebounds and a playoff career-high seven assists. He has now scored over 30 in three of the four games in this series, making him one of just four players in franchise history to score 30-plus three times in a series. No Magic player has ever scored 30-plus in four games in a series, something Vucevic will have a chance of accomplishing on Wednesday in Game 5 or beyond if Orlando is able to extend the series. Markelle Fultz also had a solid afternoon with 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Unlike the past two games, he outplayed Eric Bledsoe in this contest. Orlando outscored Milwaukee by 16 when Bledsoe, who scored just six points on 3-of-11 shooting, was on the floor.
Milwaukee has shown this series why it had the NBA’s best regular season record. On both ends of the floor, it has flexed its collective muscle. In Game 4, the Bucks shot just a shade under 50 percent from the field and 41.5 percent from 3-point distance. On the other end, they held the Magic to just 20 points in the paint. Turnovers, as they were in Game 3, were once again a problem for Orlando. The Magic’s 16 turnovers led to 17 Bucks points.
The Big Picture
Game 5 is set for Wednesday at 4 p.m. on FOX Sports Florida and NBA TV. The Magic remain hopeful that Aaron Gordon, who has missed eight straight games due to a hamstring strain, could be ready with an additional couple days of treatment. Orlando has also been without Michael Carter-Williams (foot strain), and of course both Al-Farouq Aminu and Jonathan Isaac are out for the season with knee injuries and Mo Bamba had to leave the Disney campus for a comprehensive post-coronavirus evaluation. The key for Orlando, even if it is shorthanded, is to play with a similar effort in Game 5 as it did in Game 4 to give themselves a chance of extending the series.
Quote of the Night
“They pack the paint. They live in the paint. They want to kind of give you open shots on the wing or mid-range twos or threes. That’s just kind of their defense. They play the old school, random kind of defense. We have to do what the defense (gives us). That’s why we’re taking so many threes and we’re shooting jump shots because that’s what they are giving us. If we want to win, we have to make those shots.” – Terrence Ross on Bucks’ defense