Milwaukee Bucks, NBA Playoffs, Orlando Magic

Milwaukee Bucks make another statement, finishing off the Magic

The Milwaukee Bucks shifted gears back to basketball and bounced the Orlando Magic out of the playoffs in Game 5.

Game 5 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic was supposed to be played Wednesday evening but a multisport solidarity strike sparked by the Bucks decision to boycott changed everything. After two days of negotiations, NBA players voted to resume the playoffs after the announcement of significant social justice action steps to be taken by the league.

With the focus (briefly) back on basketball, the Bucks showed they were ready for the on-court challenge as well. A big first-quarter lead ballooned 17 by halftime and Giannis was controlling everything at both ends. A run of hot shooting brought the Magic as close as three in the fourth quarter but the Bucks answered back and stretched the final result to blowout territory.

It was a gritty performance by Orlando but even if Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac were healthy, they still would have been significantly overmatched. The Magic get to make a short trip home and start planning for next season. The Bucks meanwhile, get to start preparing for the second round and the Miami Heat.


Milwaukee Bucks


Orlando Magic


What else did you miss in Game 5 between the Milwaukee Bucks and Orlando Magic?

Strategic advantage: Finding Giannis on the move

Giannis created more than one highlight in this game by using his length and athleticism to simply force his way through a set defense. But he had one of his best scoring games of the series — 28 points on 17 shots from the field in just 28 minutes — because the Bucks did a fantastic job leveraging his skills in different places. He wasn’t just working from the perimeter with the ball in his hands. He was cutting on teammate drives, screening and rolling for lobs, taking advantage of mismatches for early post-ups and duck-ins and even hit a spot-up 3-pointer.

Part of the reason the Bucks offense looked vulnerable in the Magic’s Game 1 win was how often Giannis was pounding the ball beyond the arc. Again, he can take two dribbles and dunk from there but the more different places the Bucks can get him touches the more scenarios the defense has to work through, and the more options there are for both Giannis and his teammates to take advantage.

Unsung hero: Khris Middleton and his 21 points

Middleton still missed some shots he normally makes but with 21 points on 16 shots and 7 assists, this was his best offensive performance of the playoffs, by far. He was aggressive off the dribble, attacking closeouts and looking for open teammates. Middleton’s jumper hasn’t been falling the way it normally does but the defense is still responding and he’s been fantastic at leveraging his gravity to the benefit of others. He’ll finish the first round with 26 assists.

Thing to watch: Giannis keeps getting in foul trouble

Giannis picked up his fifth foul late in the third quarter when the Bucks were already holding a double-digit lead. The Magic surged back when he was on the bench but Milwaukee’s second unit was mostly able to hold them off without him. But even if his foul-trouble didn’t change the final outcome here, it’s a troubling trend. After averaging 3.7 fouls per 36 minutes in the regular season, he’s been at 4.6 per 36 minutes in the playoffs and was at 5.1 per 36 in the eight reseeding games in the bubble. At least one of the fouls he picked up in this game was on an absurd flop by D.J. Augustin but his absurd athleticism makes him vulnerable to that Shaq phenomenon — where every contact he initiates sends players flying and every time he gets hit he can absorb it without thinking. As the margins get tighter it’s something smart opponents can exploit.

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