Brook Lopez, Bucks Beat Hawks in Game 5 with Giannis, Trae Young out with Injuries

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJuly 2, 2021

Milwaukee Bucks' Brook Lopez (11) shoots between multiple Atlanta Hawks defenders during the first half of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals Thursday, July 1, 2021, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Aaron Gash)
AP Photo/Aaron Gash

The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from the NBA Finals after beating the visiting Atlanta Hawks 123-112 in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference Finals series Thursday at Fiserv Forum.

Both teams were without their top stars. Two-time NBA MVP and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo remained out with a left knee hyperextension he suffered during Game 4 of this series.

Hawks point guard and 2019-20 All-Star Trae Young missed his second straight game with a bone bruise in his right foot.

Four Bucks players scored 22 or more points in Antetokounmpo's absence.

Brook Lopez led the way, posting 33 points on 14-of-18 shooting and dominating defensively with four blocks and two steals. His dunk punctuated a 20-5 first-quarter run to give the Bucks an early 30-10 lead.

Jrue Holiday had six assists in a dominant first quarter that ended with Milwaukee up 36-22, and he finished with 25 points and 13 dimes.

Khris Middleton contributed a near-triple double with 26 points, 13 boards and eight assists, and Bobby Portis added 22 points and eight boards to round out the Bucks' top four scorers.

Atlanta hung around and cut the Bucks' lead to 65-59 early in the second half, but Milwaukee kept its distance and led by double digits for the entire fourth quarter.

Bogdan Bogdanovic led four Hawks with double digits with 28 points, making seven three-pointers on the night.

Milwaukee leads Atlanta three games to two in the best-of-seven series.

Notable Performances

Bucks F Khris Middleton: 26 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists

Bucks PG Jrue Holiday: 25 points, 13 assists, 6 rebounds

Bucks C Brook Lopez: 33 points, 7 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals

Bucks PF Bobby Portis: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 3 steals

Hawks SG Bogdan Bogdanovic: 28 points, 5 rebounds

Hawks PF John Collins: 19 points, 8 rebounds

Hawks F Danilo Gallinari: 19 points

Lopez Sets the Tone for Bucks in Game 5 Win

The Bucks took control early and never looked back en route to their 11-point win, and Lopez played a huge part in that effort on both ends.

The big man set the tone early with a block that led to a Holiday bucket on the other end:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Block and a bucket to start things off!! <a href="https://t.co/i2s6rE6qpS">pic.twitter.com/i2s6rE6qpS</a>

More of the same occurred later in the quarter, when a Lopez steal led to a Portis fast-break dunk:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

LET 'EM KNOW, BP!! <a href="https://t.co/hIVmXJeKde">pic.twitter.com/hIVmXJeKde</a>

The Holiday-Lopez connection kept working, and the big man threw down yet another dunk to increase Milwaukee's edge:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

BROOK. LOPEZ. 😳 <a href="https://t.co/RjdWWmPucD">pic.twitter.com/RjdWWmPucD</a>

The exclamation point on the Bucks' 30-10 run occurred courtesy of Lopez again, who took a Holiday pass and slammed it home. At that juncture, Lopez had as many points (10) as the Hawks.

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Brook drops the HAMMER!! <a href="https://t.co/KCZNcXWCA8">pic.twitter.com/KCZNcXWCA8</a>

Lopez even traversed a bit outside the paint, hitting a baseline jumper over Danilo Gallinari:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Can't stop Brook. <a href="https://t.co/ql0HwdbdXU">pic.twitter.com/ql0HwdbdXU</a>

The ex-Stanford star kept it going in the third, this time getting a feed from Middleton and adding yet another dunk:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Khris, the facilitator. Brook, the finisher!! <a href="https://t.co/MkZno3gW4R">pic.twitter.com/MkZno3gW4R</a>

Like a broken record, Holiday found Lopez yet again, who threw down an alley-oop to keep the Hawks at bay:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Oop Mountain!! <a href="https://t.co/MVD4Rdbs0D">pic.twitter.com/MVD4Rdbs0D</a>

Lopez was a superstar down low, and Logan Murdock of The Ringer provided an appropriate clip for the occasion:

Logan Murdock @loganmmurdock

brook lopez tonight <a href="https://t.co/Ty3PS7NoXa">pic.twitter.com/Ty3PS7NoXa</a>

Thanks largely to Lopez, the Bucks are one win away from their first NBA Finals appearance since 1974.

Hawks Have No Answer for Bucks in Paint

Milwaukee shot 9-of-29 from three-point range Thursday. Normally, hitting just 31.0 percent from downtown isn't a prelude to victory in today's NBA, but that didn't matter in Game 5 as the Bucks simply dominated the Hawks in the key.

Milwaukee outscored Atlanta 66-36 in the paint, and Kurt Helin of NBC Sports reported that the Bucks shot 66 percent there too. That effort helped prevent Milwaukee from ever trailing in a game the Bucks led by as many as 20.

Portis, who entered the starting lineup for Antetokounmpo, complemented Lopez's efforts with his powerful and energetic play. He corralled an early offensive rebound and put it back up for two in the Bucks' excellent first quarter:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Bully ball. <a href="https://t.co/bSGoQ1PbOI">pic.twitter.com/bSGoQ1PbOI</a>

He did work in the open court too, finishing a fast break with a dunk that sent Fiserv Forum into a frenzy:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Bobby is bringing the ENERGY!! <a href="https://t.co/07jiigaPGn">pic.twitter.com/07jiigaPGn</a>

Milwaukee simply destroyed Atlanta in the paint in the first half, with ESPN's Tim Bontemps and Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today providing some stats:

Tim Bontemps @TimBontemps

The Bucks have as many points in the paint at halftime — 44 — as they did in all of Game 4. Milwaukee shot 25-for-35 — 71 percent — inside the 3-point arc in the first half. <a href="https://t.co/pSZfeo7Xcz">https://t.co/pSZfeo7Xcz</a>

Jeff Zillgitt @JeffZillgitt

Bucks 55.8% FGAs, 23.5% on 3s.<br>Hawks 42.2% FGAs, 37.5% on 3s.<br>Bucks 44-20 points in the paint.<br>Hawks 20-2 in bench points<br>Both teams getting second-chance points on offensive rebounds. <br><br>First-half shot charts: <a href="https://t.co/9dXR1iPkbP">pic.twitter.com/9dXR1iPkbP</a>

The Hawks just didn't have an answer for the Bucks around the basket, with Middleton going to work on Kevin Huerter:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Put him in the spin cycle 🌪 <a href="https://t.co/4Uwx4klGjQ">pic.twitter.com/4Uwx4klGjQ</a>

The Bucks' pick-and-roll was a serious problem as evidenced here, when Holiday kept the ball himself and hit a shot from just beyond the free-throw line:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Jrue AND-ONE!! <a href="https://t.co/1SkoxjY22S">pic.twitter.com/1SkoxjY22S</a>

Pat Connaughton also got in on the act, hitting a one-hander over John Collins following a shrewd pass from Holiday:

Milwaukee Bucks @Bucks

Pat doing work in the paint!! <a href="https://t.co/LWdAHwtWKl">pic.twitter.com/LWdAHwtWKl</a>

And that was it for the Hawks, who go back home to Atlanta needing a win to keep their season alive.


What's Next?

Atlanta will host Milwaukee for Game 6 on Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET in State Farm Arena.

If Milwaukee wins, then the Bucks will advance to face the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.

If Atlanta wins, then Milwaukee will host the Hawks for Game 7 on Monday at 8:30 p.m.