And you know that this is the Key Game in the series because they have hired Spike Lee to put together the Official Opening Montage.
2.02am BST 02:02
And now we get footage of all of Chris Paul’s Game 4 turnovers. This is officially the main narrative going in, although it should also be noted that Devin Booker basically fouling out also harmed the Suns last game (the officials didn’t call that sixth foul, but he was still stymied during crunch time).
1.59am BST 01:59
I am not going to lie, following the WNBA All-Star Game was a lot more fun than the self-congratulatory stuff going on here in the Finals Preview. It’s no fun liveblogging people saying stuff in comparison.
1.52am BST 01:52
Phoenix Suns starters
Same thing on Phoenix’s side. Everybody knows their role at this point of the playoffs, it’s just down to execution now.
Chris Paul, PG
Devin Booker, SG
Mikal Bridges, SF
Jae Crowder, PF
Deandre Ayton, C
1.50am BST 01:50
Milwaukee Bucks starters
Same as last time around, it seems.
Jrue Holiday, PG
JR Tucker, PF
Khris Middleton, SG
Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF
Brook Lopez, C
1.48am BST 01:48
I sometimes think that this account is not so “random.” Connaughton, of course, ended up being a key bench player for Milwaukee in Game 4: playing 32 minutes and picking up 11 points and, more notably, 9 rebounds. They could use a similar boost this time around.
1.43am BST 01:43
“Nobody cares about your story unless you win it.” – Chris Paul
Okay, that’s a more succinct version of what I was trying to say about Giannis’s Block back in the preamble. It’s all about who ends up in the final score, trying to write these stories before the final countdown is an exercise in blind faith.
1.36am BST 01:36
Alright, I’m officially out of the running, having predicted Phoenix-in-Five before the start of the series because, well, we’re going at least six here. That’s just basic math.
I’m still sticking with the Suns winning here eventually but I don’t know how many games. I’ll say they win tonight, maybe by double-digits because we’re due for a not-so-close game. Hope I’m wrong though! It’s always more fun to cover these games when everything is on the line with every possession! So let me go with Suns 108-Bucks 98.
In any case, if we’re going to talk about one musical artist during tonight’s game it would be the Diabolical One. In preparation for Game 5, Footprint Center has blasted the late Biz Markie’s immortal “Just A Friend” before the game action.
1.25am BST 01:25
Outside Reality Rears Its Ugly Dead
Antetokounmpo is out thanks to the NBA’s Safety and Health Protocols! Er, that’s Thanasis Antetokounmpo and not Giannis, freaked you out there for a second, right? In any case, not great news for Milwaukee.
Oh and we’re also down an official for the very same reason.
Maybe it’s time to return to the Bubble?
1.15am BST 01:15
Sometimes when writing these liveblogs, you’re so fixated on getting the details right (who’s currently winning, the current score, the players who just scored, which player is red hot and who can’t buy a shot, etc.) that the key moments of the game don’t even register at the time. Looking back at Thursday’s Game 4 liveblog, it’s clear that Giannis Antetokounmpo’s game-changing block (quickly labeled “the greatest block in NBA history” by some who quite likely are getting just a little bit ahead of themselves) was just barely recorded here as “Giannis gets a huge block on the other end.”
Well, here’s the thing about moments like this: for the most part they aren’t really imprinted into historical memory unless they’re pulled off by the winning team. Right now? Well, right now that’s very much all in the air. After putting themselves in the driver’s seat by taking a 2-0 Finals lead, the Suns dropped their next two against the Milwaukee Bucks, thanks in no small part to the fact that Giannis has been absolutely dominant on both ends. Now, it’s all even up after four, meaning this has been reduced to a three-game series.
One of the key reasons that the Suns struggled in Game 4 was that Chris Paul shot 5-for-13 and had a number of turnovers, including an absolute howler that essentially allowed Milwaukee to hold on to their victory. It’s led to speculation that his hand injury is affecting him more than anybody is willing to admit. Given how teams dislike handing over such information to opposing teams, we likely won’t find out exactly how healthy anybody is until after the series is over.
The good news is that we’re now going to get at least six games in what is shaping up to be a very exciting Finals. It’s also looking like the concern that the lack of the big-name franchises would harm the viewing numbers was at least somewhat overblown. It’s almost like great basketball is great basketball even if it doesn’t involve LeBron James or Steph Curry. If the first four games are any indication, we should have another exciting game on our hands. If you want to contribute to this liveblog, as always you can either email us (to firstname.lastname@example.org) or tweet us (to @HunterFelt) and we’ll use your commentary throughout. It’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Phoenix Suns! We’re scheduled to start shortly after 9:00 pm EST, but this blog will be back well before then.
1.00am BST 01:00
Hunter will be here shortly. In the meantime, here’s Andrew Lawrence on the man leading the Suns:
Time has not been kind to the Phoenix Suns. Seven days ago they appeared to be on an inexorable march toward their first championship in franchise history while slapping the Milwaukee Bucks with double-digits losses and reducing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a one-man band. But since the series migrated from Phoenix to Milwaukee, the home team hasn’t just come alive behind Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez and other supporting players; the Greek has been at his freakiest – pouring in a combined 61 points (on 60% shooting), 27 rebounds and a lead-preserving block in Game 4.
Now a pivotal Game 5 looms on Saturday in Phoenix with the series tied at 2-2. The Bucks have all the momentum, while the home team could well slide into an irrecoverable position if the visitors should manage to steal one on the road, given the 82% rate at which Game 5 victors go on to take the whole chalupa. With their season at a dark hour, the Suns suddenly find themselves backpedaling toward the wall. But if there’s anyone who can get them moving forward again, it’s Monty Williams.