Mendoza: The old Chris Paul must show up

·2 min read

The momentum of their back-to-back wins in the last two games should favor the Milwaukee Bucks over the Phoenix Suns in Game 5 on July 18, PH time, in the NBA Finals.

But it won’t be easy as the Bucks trudge back to tricky territory.

With the best-of-seven series tied at 2-2, the Bucks will aim for a crucial go-ahead third straight win, mindful of a boisterous, hostile crowd once again in Phoenix where the Suns won Games 1 & 2, 118-105 and 118-108, respectively.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the two-time MVP from Greece, must muffle off the crowd’s heckling each time he goes to the line if he hopes to hop to the next level of greatness.

He’d mostly miss free throws the way he did in Games 1 & 2, when the Phoenix crowd counted 1-to-14 to distract his motions at every foul shot he’d toss.

But in Milwaukee, hearing the home fans cheering “MVP! MVP! MVP” as he did his ritual at the charity lane, Antetokounmpo would be a different person altogether.

He fired 67 points in the Bucks’ victories in Games 3 & 4 in Deer District. He unloaded 41 point in the 120-100 Game 3 blowout before amassing 26 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in Milwaukee’s 109-103 Game 4 victory.

And while the Greek Freak is the acknowledged best Buck since Lew Alcindor made Milwaukee NBA champion in 1971, Khris Middleton is Antetoukounmpo’s best back-up ever.

In firing 40 points in the Bucks’ Game 4 victory, Middleton scored his last 10 points in a blazing 10-2 run in the last 108 seconds, giving Milwaukee a secure 107-101 lead with inconsequential ticks left.

“Truly, Khris and Giannis are the heart and soul of our team,” said Jrue Holiday.

And Holiday is also proving himself as the Bucks’ best defender in the series. He did not only limit Chris Paul to a playoffs low of 10 points in Game 4, but he also forced him to commit five turnovers as well.

Prior to the Finals, Paul had averaged 1.6 turnovers in 15 playoff games. But in the first three games alone against the Bucks, he had 15 turnovers before committing those five horrendous miscues in Thursday’s Game 4.

That helped waste another fiery outing for Devin Booker, who bombed Milwaukee with 42 points even as he went zero from deep.

If the old Chris Paul doesn’t show up in Sunday’s Game 5, he’d be renamed from “Point God” to “Point Goof.” Without appeal.

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