Khris Middleton came through in Game 4 when the Bucks needed him
Jul 16, 2021, 5:02 PM | Updated: Aug 17, 2021, 7:20 am
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Whether he’s Batman or Robin, Khris Middleton saved the day for the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday.
In the final 2:15 of the fourth quarter, he outscored the Phoenix Suns 10-4, shooting 3-of-5 from the field and 4-of-4 from the charity stripe.
Middleton finished with a playoff career-high 40 points and tallied six rebounds and four assists in the Bucks’ 109-103 win over the Suns in Game 4 of the NBA Finals.
“… That’s what he does down the stretch,” Milwaukee teammate Giannis Antetokounmpo said postgame. “We want him to have the ball. We want him to be the decision-maker. We know he’s going to take big shots, and tonight he was incredible.”
Middleton now has made 15 game-tying or go-ahead shots in the fourth quarter or overtime in this postseason. That ties him with LeBron James (2007) for the most in a single playoffs in the last 25 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
“Khris has no fear and he never has,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said. “Being one of the guys who has guarded him in my career, knowing what he’s done, hitting big shots, making big plays, he’s never been afraid of the moment. So putting him in this situation is kind of perfect.”
Milwaukee trailed by as many as nine points in the final period, but the Bucks once again showed their resilience, thanks to a 10-0 Middleton run in crunch time.
After two clutch free throws from the Suns’ Jae Crowder, Middleton made back-to-back jumpers to give Milwaukee a 101-99 lead with a 1:28 to play.
He put the game out of reach with a contested layup following an uncharacteristic Chris Paul turnover. Middleton then sealed it at the charity stripe, making four straight free throws, as the Bucks evened the series at 2-2.
“… We just ran sets that allowed me to get to my spots,” Middleton said. “After that, I just got to make reads. Whether to shoot, whether to find an open guy, Giannis on a roll. It’s just reading the defense at that point. Just luckily, thankfully, I hit some shots.”
But one criticism of the Bucks’ forward has been his inconsistent shooting performances at home versus on the road.
During this postseason, he is averaging 25 points, 46.8% from the field and 38% from three-point range at the Fiserv Forum. But on the road, he is averaging 22.4 points, 40.4% from the field and 31.5% from distance.
“I guess I’ve got to get some extra shots in Phoenix and whatnot,” Middleton said. “But just got to find a way to knock down shots when I’m on the road. It’s been tough for me all postseason long. Just got to find a way.”