Game 4 of the 2021 NBA Finals was going to make or break this series. A win by the Phoenix Suns, and the series (and season) were all but over. A win for the Milwaukee Bucks, and we are set up for a classic showdown. Through all the tough fadeaway jumpers, questionable foul calls (and non-calls), the 2021 NBA Finals looks to be better than advertised. Tied at 2-2 after an intense Bucks win, let’s take a look at how it went down.
NBA Finals – Game 4 Recap
The First Half
The opening half was the story of two players. Specifically, two elite mid-range shot creators. Devin Booker and Khris Middleton. The two shooting guards were locked in an almost H-O-R-S-E-like competition. Booker comes down hits a contested spin jumper just outside the paint. Middleton says “Ok I see you” and comes down with a step-back jumper of his own. This was a shot-making masterpiece. For those who enjoy seeing NBA players show off their “bag”, this was the game for you. Booker and Middleton combined for 36 points in the first half to carry their teams’ offenses.
It was the battle of the (secondary) stars as future Hall of Famer, Chris Paul struggled mightily. He scored only two points and could not find any rhythm on offense. Giannis Antetokounmpo was solid but below his usual standard, especially coming off back-to-back 40 point games. With the game tied at the half, this game looked to be the closest one yet.
The Second Half
The Booker special wasn’t over with the halftime buzzer. After a great first half, Booker decided to have an even better second half. He scored 18 points in the third quarter and didn’t miss a single shot. That is legendary stuff. During that quarter, Booker also set the record for most points in a player’s first playoff run in NBA history. He surpassed Rick Barry in 1967 and Julius Erving in 1977. Despite all the Booker heroics, he was called for his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter and now the Suns were gonna have to figure out how to survive without him.
Luckily for Phoenix, Jrue Holiday decided to play even worse than Paul. Making only four field goals on 20 attempts. Yes, you heard that right. Why is Holiday taking 20 shots in an NBA finals game? That was the third-most in the entire game. Even the Greek Freak didn’t take that many. With Holiday’s horrific shooting, Phoenix was able to keep their lead during Booker’s time on the bench which meant we had a perfect setup for a classic finish. With the Suns up 93-90, anything could happen.
Just two minutes after Booker’s return to the game, he seemingly forgot about his foul trouble. On a three-on-one fastbreak, Holiday went up for the layup and Booker (smartly?) tries to foul him to avoid giving up a guaranteed two points. The refs, inexplicably stay silent as Antetokounmpo takes the rebound and lays it in while Booker jogs away unscathed with his five personal fouls. This would have been a series-changing no-call had it not been for Middleton’s late-game heroics. Middleton finished with 40 points to cap off the best game in his finals career and tied at 2-2, we have a series folks.
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