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GIANNIS-LESS BUCKS FORCE GAME 5 "Even though he couldn't stand after the game, he stood up for us."


Going down 3-0, the first-seeded Milwaukee Bucks had a mountain to climb. Losing on Sunday would've made them the highest winning percentage team to get swept in the history of the association. But the climb just got a little easier.

Might as well make history while you’re doing it, cap off a great season here. It’s the first time in the history of the NBA we’re playing in a bubble. First time that a team can come back down from 3-0. We’ve got to trust each other, continue to believe. The season’s not over.

George Hill, FOX Sports

First down, three to go. The Bucks beat Miami in overtime 118-115, forcing Game 5 on Tuesday, behind an incredible effort by Khris Middleton. The 6-8 forward scored 9 of Milwaukee's 11 points in OT and was the team's leading scorer with 36.

Giannis added 19 on 8-for-10 shooting and was an unstoppable force for the Bucks. Well, for 11 minutes he was on the floor, before re-injuring his right ankle and having his Sunday night performance cut short.

The Heat were up 6 when the Greek Freak headed to the locker room, as it seemed more and more likely for the sweep scenario to occur. But then, out of nowhere, the Bucks' team machinery got the ball rolling, both literally and figuratively. The ball was finding an open guy, bodies were moving, their offense looked much more fluid as they weren't so dependent on their superstar player. The upstroke — 3 point victory behind balanced team effort across the board.

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It's enough for the Bucks are better without Giannis narrative to start shaping. Let me tell you right away - they're not. Not by any objective measure. They outscore opponents by 15.4 points per 100 possessions with Giannis on the floor and only 2.4 with him on the bench. The same goes for their first eight regular-season games in the bubble.

It's in the playoffs, particularly during fourth quarters, when Antetokounmpo's offensive weaknesses come to life, making it seem like he's the one holding the team down. Well, it wasn't their offense that got the Bucks over the hump yesterday. It was their incredible defensive effort, holding the Heat to 19 points in the final 12 minutes of action. So they didn't magically turn into this offensive juggernaut with the league MVP out of the picture.

What they did do is they got an emotional boost from Giannis, after seeing their best player aggravating his sprained ankle, and still shooting two free throws to keep the door open for eventually returning to the game.

“He's a true teammate. Even though he couldn't stand after the game, he stood up for us.”

Eric Bledsoe

Bam Adebayo led Miami with a near triple-double of 26 points, 12 rebounds, and 8 assists. Five more Heat players scored in double figures, but they still came short in closing out the series and will have another opportunity to do so on Tuesday night, in what will be another elimination game for the Bucks.

Nothing is off the table. The hopes of rewriting the NBA's history books and setting new precedents are still alive. There's still the Deer to be feared!

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