2021 NBA Finals

24 Thoughts on Game 4 of 2021 NBA Finals

Instant observations and real-time tweets from Game 4 of The Finals as it happened in Milwaukee on Wednesday night.

A picture that is worth 82 points in Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals.

After falling down 0-2 in Phoenix, the Bucks returned to Fiserv Forum and responded with a Game 3 win behind a dominant performance from Giannis Antetokounmpo. In this situation – higher seed up 2-1 and returning home for Game 5 – Game 4 is absolutely critical. Can the Suns steal Game 4 and return to Phoenix looking to close this out? Or can the Bucks defend their home court and even this series to make it a best-of-three over the next week?

1 — The Suns run the first play of the game for Booker, comes off a Deandre Ayton screen and rises up for the fadeaway jumper that swishes clean. Great to get him started early after Game 3’s 3-14 performance. Two minutes later, hits a runner in the lane – has the first four points for Phoenix.

2 — Bucks legends are in the Fiserv Forum tonight. This trio helped lead the Bucks to their only title in franchise history in 1971.

3 — An 8-0 run by the Suns puts them up 10-4 with 8:29 remaining and forces an early timeout by the Bucks. Suns have baskets from Devin Booker (2), Chris Paul, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton in the first three and a half minutes. Jae Crowder is the only Sun yet to score, as he missed his first 3-point attempt of the night.

4 — Middleton with seven of the first 11 points of the night for the Bucks. Milwaukee is 4-0 in the playoffs and 7-2 overall this season when Middleton scores 30 points.

5 — Devin Booker had 10 points in Game 3, he’s up to eight points so far in Game 4 and we’re still in the first quarter. Book had three games under 15 points in the regular season and always bounced back strong (24.0 ppg, 51.9 FG%).

6 — Giannis airballs a 3, Portis with the offensive rebound, misses the putback layup, but Giannis flies in for the putback dunk. Definitely not a play that was drawn up, but the Bucks will take the points anyway they can get them right now.

7 — The Suns hold a 3-point lead (23-20) at the end of the first quarter. Devin Booker leads all players with eight points on 3-7 shooting, while Deandre Ayton has six points and six boards.

Khris Middleton leads the Bucks with seven points, while Giannis has four points on 2-2 shooting 2s and 0-2 shooting on 3s. Milwaukee is shooting just 32% form the field and 20% from 3-point range but trail by only three points.

8 — Giannis in transition is just unfair. First he hits Middleton in the corner, who makes an aggressive drive for a layup; next possession, Giannis takes it himself, with a spin move in the lane.

9 — Bucks tied the game at 33 with 7:11 to play on a transition alley-oop dunk from Khris Middleton to Brook Lopez. Fast break points so far: Bucks 8, Suns 0. Fast break points this series: Bucks 16.7 ppg, Suns 11.0 ppg

10 — I discussed this in today’s tune-in tidbits (shameless plug), but the second quarter has been the difference maker through the first three games of the series. The team that has won the second quarter has won every game. In each of the past two games, the winning team made a big push in the second quarter to find separation. Bucks are on an 8-0 run now as they lead 37-33.

11 — Booker now up to 12 points with five minutes remaining in second quarter, already topping his scoring output from Game 3.

And he’s not stopping.

12 — Deandre Ayton picks up his second foul with 4:55 remaining in the second quarter. Foul trouble forced Ayton off the court in Game 3 and was key to Milwaukee’s dominance on the glass and second chance points. Can he make it to halftime without pickup his third foul?

13 — Back-and-forth scoring since that Bucks run early in the second quarter. Booker with 20 points is the only Sun with more than six points. Bucks have three players in double figures: Middleton 13, Giannis and Lopez with 10 apiece, with Holiday knocking on the door with nine points. Suns up by two, 49-47 with 1:30 to play.

14 — After 24 minutes, we’re tied at 52 as the teams head to the locker rooms for halftime. Booker still leads all scorers with 20 and Middleton is up to 16 for the Bucks as his 3-pointer closed out the first half scoring.

Another segment of Good News/Bad News, this time for the Suns. Bad News: the score is tied despite Phoenix shooting 10 percentage points better in the first half. Good News: Deandre Ayton played 18:32 in the first half and has just two fouls. He played only 24:23 in Game 3 due to foul trouble.

Chris Paul with only two points in the first half, which means the Bucks have the edge in the starting backcourts. Middleton (16) and Holiday (9) have combined for 25, while Booker (20) and Paul (2) have 22 points.

15 — Suns score the first five points of the third quarter – Crowder three, Booker jumper – before Giannis hits the step back jumper from 15 feet.

Booker answers with another lefty layup. That’s three of his 10 buckets tonight coming with the left hand. As a lefty myself, I believe I can speak for the group in saying we would welcome Book to Team Lefty if he’s ready to join.

16 — Bucks are ice cold (1-8 FG, 0-2 3P) to open the third quarter, but the Suns are not taking advantage. Three careless turnovers and a few missed open looks are keeping the Bucks within five points.

17 — The game’s in good hands as the next generation of stars is taking over: Booker and Trae in the top four.

And Book keeps adding to the record.

Booker up to 30 points, but picks up his fourth foul with 5:53 to play in the third and heads to the bench. Ayton being on the bench was an issue in Game 3, can the Suns survive without Book here in Game 4? He has 30 of their 65 points!

18 — Booker only sits out for two-and-a-half minutes of game time. He left with the Suns up three (following Middleton’s FTs after Booker’s foul) and returned with the Suns up one after Cam Payne’s falling layup.

Booker now up to 32 points and no other Suns player in double figures (Crowder 9, Bridges 7, Ayton/Paul/Payne 6)

Another game, another highlight play from Cam Johnson. Game 3 had the poster dunk on Tucker. Game 4 has a block on Holiday. Leads to a Cam Payne 3 to put PHX up by 7.

19 — Suns close the third quarter on a 13-6 run after Pat Connaughton gave the Bucks the lead (70-69) with 3:39 to play. Booker scores 18 points on a perfect 7-7 shooting in the period, he’s now up to 38 points and remains the only Suns player in double figures.

Middleton is up to 26 for the Bucks, while Giannis (19 pts, 9 reb) and Lopez (14 pts) have complemented his scoring.

20 — Booker picks up fifth foul in opening minute of the fourth quarter. He’s subbed out with the Suns up six; can they hold the lead without him?

With 7:10 to play, the Suns lead by four after Jae Crowder splits a pair of free throws. Suns are in the bonus the rest of the way, which could become a factor for the best free throw shooting team in the postseason.

On the theme of fouls, PJ Tucker picks up his fifth with 6:27 to play on a Jae Crowder corner 3. He sinks all three free throws to put the Suns up by five. So far they are surviving while Booker sits.

Booker returns with 5:55 to play and the Suns get a jumper by Cam Johnson to go back up five. Also, Jae Crowder (13) and Cam Johnson (10) have joined Booker in double-figure scoring.

21 — Crazy play that could end up being big down the stretch. Chris Paul turnover (goes up and makes an errant pass), Bucks on a 3-on-1 fast break, Jrue Holiday goes up for the layup, appears to be fouled by Booker (which would be his sixth and final foul), but no call is made, Giannis gets the loose ball and finishes with a layup to pull the Bucks within one point (95-94) with 3:30 to play.

22 — Connaughton’s corner 3 (BANG!) gives the Bucks the lead again (97-95) and extends the Bucks run to 7-0.

Booker answers back with a bank shot to tie it back up and pushes him to 40 points on the night.

After the first three games of this series were all decided by double-digits, we’re getting a classic back-and-forth tonight.

Crowder gets a pair of free throws to put the Suns back up by two with 2:30 to play. These next couple minutes are shaping up to be awesome and could essentially decide this series.

Middleton with back-to-back jumpers to put the Bucks back up by two with 1:30 to play

23 — Alley oop to Ayton BLOCKED by Giannis!!!!!! He now has two all-time Finals blocks!!

Chris Paul with a costly turnover (his 5th of the night!), which leads to a Bucks fast break and a layup by Khris Middleton to put the Bucks up by four with 27.2 to play. The latest candidate in the play that decides this game.

“The building is shaking!” – Mike Breen

Booker misses a running layup out of the timeout and the Suns have to foul down by 4 with 20 seconds to play. Middleton at the line, sinks them both for an 8-0 run by himself.

24 — That’s Game

The series is tied 2-2 and headed back to Phoenix for Game 5 on Saturday.

Can we just play Game 5 right now? Apparently not.