NBA finals 2021 Game 6: Phoenix Suns 98-105 Milwaukee Bucks – as it happened

Last modified: 04: 02 AM GMT+0

Final thoughts

Alright when I get around to making comments glorifying how confusing sports can be, that’s probably the sign to wrap things up. As this trophy presentation starts to devolve into random player interviews, we shall take out leave right about now. The Milwaukee Bucks pulled off a great comeback on the backs of an all-time individual performance thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo. Congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks and let’s hope that all who are celebrating now, and in the upcoming 48 hours or so, do so safely.

Thanks to everybody for following along the Guardian’s live coverage throughout the 2021 NBA Finals, especially those who contributed. Stick with the Guardian for continued NBA Finals coverage but this is the end for us this liveblog. Ciao!

Jrue Holiday gets to the line and get the “JRUE” chants.” Every team needs to have a player whose name sounds like “booo.” It makes things gloriously confusing and that’s one of the best parts about sports.

Giannis gives some love to Khris Middleton. “We got to do it again,” he says. He’s playing to the crowd and it’s very charming I have to say.

Giannis Antetokounmpo is your 2021 NBA Finals MVP

Again: even if the Suns had won (which they have not, despite a typo I made in an early update) Giannis deserved this.

He gets the MVP chants, which seem kind of extraneous now but you understand the enthusiasm.

Updated

Adam Silver gets booed to start off, which is how all commissioners should be treated by all fans. He gets the cheers by shouting out the 2021 World Championship Milwaukee Bucks.

That’s going to take some getting used to.

On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns have yet to win a championship in their franchise history. A brutal finish for a team that looked to be in command, especially for 36 year old Chris Paul who might have missed his last, best chance for a ring.

And it’s now time for the presentation of the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The Bucks last won a championship in 1971, which was also their only championship until now. So this is the cause for a huge celebration it’s just, man, I hope a large percentage of these folks are vaccinated. That’s all.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

I’m going to guess that he’s going to be the Finals MVP, but we’ll stick with the closing ceremonies for official proclamation. That was 50 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks in a Game 6 for the ages.

The Bucks have beaten the Suns to win the 2021 NBA Finals

The Milwaukee Bucks have come back from a 2-0 series hole to win the NBA Finals in six games!

Updated

Bucks win! Suns 98-105 Bucks

Suns 98-105 Bucks, FINAL

Giannis is at the line to make one of two free throws to make it 50 points. The Suns take a timeout just to give everyone a breather and the clock goes out.

Updated

Suns 98-104 Bucks, 9.8, 4th quarter

The Bucks finally foul Connaughton after a few precious seconds, the last seconds of their season, come off the clock. Connaughton misses the first and the second. Haha. Paul with a gimme layup. The Suns immediately foul this time.

I am sad for Chris Paul, an emotion I never really expecte to feel to be honest.

Suns 96-104 Bucks, 25.5, 4th quarter

Booker with a desperation shot. It doesn’t go. The Suns foul here, maybe a little too fast, and it’s Middleton who is super-killer on the line. Free throw 1 is good. Free throw 2 is good. Paul’s three is missed. Middleton secures it. Bucks call a timeout with 25.5 seconds on the clock. The crowd is up, this one is over.

Suns 96-102 Bucks, 56.9, 4th quarter

Middleton with a jumper and THAT could be the dagger. Six-point lead and the Suns take a timeout.

Suns 96-100 Bucks, 1:14, 4th quarter

Portis fouls Crowder at the end of a long and almost fruitless possession. That’s five fouls on Portis but in a minute and change it might not matter. Crowder needs to make both shots to keep Phoenix in here. He hits the first… and the second.

Suns 94-100 Bucks, 1:50, 4th quarter

Giannis gets the ball out of the timeout and scores, that’s 49 points. 8 point Bucks lead!

Booker comes in and scores to keep the Phoenix Suns alive. Time’s clicking down though.

Suns 92-100 Bucks, 2:17, 4th quarter

Giannis gets the ball out of the timeout and scores, that’s 49 points. 8 point Bucks lead!

Suns 92-98 Bucks, 3:08, 4th quarter

Ayton gets the layup this time, off an ill-timed Middleton turnover. The Bucks take a timeout here, calming things down for their final run. Still up six.

Suns 90-98 Bucks, 3:37, 4th quarter

Booker gets stripped by Tucker and fouls Tucker on the other end. The Bucks can’t score and neither can the Suns. Ayton with a miss and Giannis hits one off the glass on the other end. The stadium is shaking.

Suns 90-96 Bucks, 4:35, 4th quarter

Middleton with a fallaway jumper, this is feeling more and more likely.

Giannis is at 16 out of 17 free throws. Note: until like, this series, free throws were the WEAKEST part of his game. Absolutely ridiculous.

Suns 90-94 Bucks, 4:53, 4th quarter

Giannis gets a dunk and then he finds a Paul misstep. A Middleton shot attempt would drive the arena crazy, but it misses. Booker however gets called for an offensive foul, that gives the ball right back to Milwaukee. They can’t score, despite getting two attempts. Suns have another chance to cut this down… Crowder with a crazy jumper gets it. Four-point game. Bucks call a timeout.

Suns 88-92 Bucks, 6:29, 4th quarter

Paul picks up a non-shooting foul. The Bucks have possession and Portis scores with a layup. Booker answers however.

Suns 86-90 Bucks, 7:09, 4th quarter

Now Giannis gets called for a foul. That puts Paul on the line, he hits both. Four-poin game, lots of time left.

Suns 84-90 Bucks, 7:37, 4th quarter

Portis picks up a foul and a technical foul for arguing it. Paul misses the free throw though. Meanwhile, Giannis blocks Booker, doesn’t get called for a foul, but draws a Bridges foul on the other end. Giannis is back on the line and Phoenix are furious.

Giannis makes both. 43 points total for the game.

Suns 84-88 Bucks, 8:03, 4th quarter

Ayton picks up another foul, not great, and guess who is on the line? Kaminsky comes in to replace Ayton, meanwhile Giannis is on the line on one of the hottest free throw nights of his postseason life. He makes both.

Suns 84-86 Bucks, 8:19, 4th quarter

Another Giannis block. Crowder gets the ball back but he has no time to get one out. On the other end, Giannis collects a Middleton miss and gets it in. Paul responds however, he keeps doing this all game.

Suns 82-84 Bucks, 9:18, 4th quarter

Suns get the ball back after challenging an out-of-bounds play, so they get that timeout back. We get another clock-adjustment, maybe we are in a Philip K Dick story when it comes to the flow of time here. Okay, the Suns get the shot back… but Crowder misses a wide-open three. Wow that could have changed things.

Suns 82-84 Bucks, 9:45, 4th quarter

Bridges misses for the Suns, Johnson blocks Portis who is not entirely appreciative. The Suns take a timeout.

Suns 82-84 Bucks, 9:57, 4th quarter

Holiday with a 27 footer. Paul quiets things down with an attempt to tie with an old school three-pointer, getting a floater to sink and getting a foul on Tucker. He makes the free throw.

Portis has a shot of his own here, he’s playing angry.

Suns 79-79 Bucks, 10:54, 4th quarter

Portis gets some revenge by opening up the fourth quarter scoring. Kaminsky (?) answers. Sure Frank Kaminsky Podium Game time.

Suns 77-77 Bucks, 12:00, 4th quarter

Well I’ve been predicting overtime every game here, and I’ve been wrong so far, but if any game has an overtime feel, well it’s one.

Yeah on review that “Bobby Portis foul” was an offensive foul on Booker. But whatever, a tied game is more fun, I’ll allow it.

Suns and Bucks are tied in the third quarter!

Suns 77-77 Bucks, end of the 3rd quarter

Booker with a wild shot, he gets a foul shot although he makes a lot of contact to begin with. The Milwaukee fans do not like it one bit. Booker on the line though, with a chance to tie things up. Giannis back in the game for the last few seconds here. Booker makes both. Holiday gets off a shot and it’s no good. IT’S TIED GOING TO THE FOURTH! THIS IS AMAZING!

Suns 75-77 Bucks, 24.5, 3rd quarter

Brutal Phoenix turnover, which could haunt them in what promises not to be a blowout. Giannis with a rare miss and Kaminsky with a rarer dunk and it’s a two point game!

Suns 73-77 Bucks, 1:08, 3rd quarter

Booker drives in and scores for Phoenix. They need to just get this a tad closer before the fourth quarter or at least prevent the Bucks from extending the lead.

Suns 71-77 Bucks, 1:41, 3rd quarter

Middleton with a floater. Cam Johnson can’t connect on the Phoenix end, Connaughton gets the ball. Giannis is going to draw a foul on Crowder. He’s now desperate to get to the line, helps that it’s quieter here than in Phoenix. He hits both.

Suns 71-73 Bucks, 2:45, 3rd quarter

Holiday-to-Antetokounmpo for a layup. What was I saying?

Oh hey Frank Kaminsky scored! That’s something I wasn’t expecting.

I am honestly on the “Give the Finals MVP to Giannis even if the Suns win the series” bandwagon at this point, for what it’s worth.

Suns 69-71 Bucks, 2:46, 3rd quarter

Booker gets it. The foul on the play was Pat Connaughton by the way, I’ll mention here with the Bucks, still up by a score, take a timeout to collect themselves.

Suns 68-71 Bucks, 2:46, 3rd quarter

Crowder misses BUT Kaminsky gets the rebound and gives him a second chance, which he nails. That would be great for the Suns but Holiday hits a three pointer of his own.

Devin Booker gets two points credited to him after a Giannis goaltend. (It feels like a 50-50 call at first, but it does hit the backboard before he does so). Booker also gets a free throw here.. and there’s some sort of clock issue that delays it.

Suns 63-68 Bucks, 4:09, 3rd quarter

Ayton picks up his fourth foul, which is bad for Phoenix who have a shortage of bigs, while Giannis gets to the line. He makes both free throws, because it’s that kind of game for him.

Suns 63-66 Bucks, 4:24, 3rd quarter

Each team goes back and forth here with misses, but the crowd feels to be willing Milwaukee on. Lopez, at the very least, is feeling it as he takes a Holiday assist and converts it.

Paul, as he has been this game, tries to level things out for Phoenix with an old school jumper. One possession game.

Suns 61-64 Bucks, 5:46, 3rd quarter

Here’s the problem for the Suns: Giannis. Giannis is the problem he scores for the Bucks. Paul immediately responds but Lopez responds to his response.

Crowder tries another three, but the trick doesn’t work. Lopez throws down on the other end and oof that might be a key play for the Bucks.

Suns 59-58 Bucks, 7:15, 3rd quarter

Out of the timeout, Jae Crowder does his thing: he hits a massive three-pointer AND he picks up a foul on Giannis. A possible four-point play turns into an actual four-point play on the line.

This new Ryan Reynolds movie looks like the movie that a fictionalized Ryan Reynolds character is promoting in a Hollywood satire that isn’t as sharp or funny as it think it is.

Suns 55-58 Bucks, 7:26, 3rd quarter

Giannis misses a layup but finds that missed layup and lays it in and yes of course the Suns are going to call a timeout. Are the two teams trading bad quarters?

Suns 55-56 Bucks, 8:08, 3rd quarter

Giannis with a jumper, Booker misses a three, Giannis gets back on the line. That’s a third on Ayton. Gianni’s first free throw hits the backboard, but drops in. That still counts. His second, is pure and true. Bucks lead!

Suns 55-52 Bucks, 8:36, 3rd quarter

Oh these two are now officially at it. Holiday gets the ball from Booker and Booker has to foul here. Holiday makes both free throws.

Suns 55-50 Bucks, 9:14, 3rd quarter

Oh there’s Booker again.

Suns 53-50 Bucks, 9:27, 3rd quarter

Booker with a long two that only he could make and the Bucks are in danger if he gets in his groove now. Of course, same could be said with the Suns if the Bucks get Holiday going. He scores to make it a one-possession game.

Suns 51-48 Bucks, 10:18, 3rd quarter

Giannis with a three and it’s a one-point game. He is doing it all, almost too much so. They need some help from other guys!

Paul-finds-Ayton for an alley-oop dunk to get Phoenix some more separation.

Suns 49-45 Bucks, 11:31, 3rd quarter

Giannis gets called for goaltending which gives points to Mikal Bridges but he scores and gets fouled immediately afterwards. He hits the free throw

Start of the second half

Suns 47-42 Bucks, 12:00, 3rd quarter

This time it was extremely later than I thought!

After all these years of NBA Finals liveblogging I still have zero idea when exactly the second half is going to start. It’s always either way sooner than I expect or way later.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee has some issues it needs to work through:

Bucks with 11 first half turnovers, shot 3-17 from 3. That's a lot of empty possessions.

— Kurt Helin (@basketballtalk) July 21, 2021

Chris Paul has heard the criticism: he has a team high 13 points plus four assists after a somewhat sluggish start.

You’ll never (i.e. probably) guess this but Giannis has the game-high halftime point total with 17.

Halftime thoughts

Well it was all about the second quarter, where the Suns sprung to life and the Bucks seemed to finally start to sputter. The Phoenix have a thin lead but it’s looking like this one’s going to be close all the way through.

End of the 1st half: Suns 47-42 Bucks

Suns 47-42 Bucks, end of the first half

Giannis gets called for a block but the Suns get called for a 24 second violation that ends the possession before he do anything with it. Middleton misses on his end. Paul scores again and it’s looking like he doesn’t want his best shot at a ring to end tonight. Shot clock off, Bucks have possession and Paul picks up his second foul and Middleton gets on the line. That’s a good final possession for Milwaukee, especially as Middleton hits both. Suns fail to draw a foul, it comes but it comes after the buzzer so that’s that.

Updated

Suns 45-40 Bucks, 45.3, 2nd quarter

Oh now we’re doing the scoring thing I guess. Giannis scores, Paul finds Ayton for a layup and Brook Lopez scores… no he’s called for offensive goaltending?

That seems like a super-iffy call.

Suns 43-40 Bucks, 1:46, 2nd quarter

Chris Paul with a jumper, Giannis with a layup. Paul immediately answers. This is more like the series I was expecting.

This tweet echoes my thoughts on the commentary crew deciding to throw in a Dr. Fauci joke about this possibly being a super-spreader event.

(announcer voice) "I gotta tell ya, Bill, a few of those people out there will die an agonizing death, saying goodbye to their loved ones over FaceTime, if at all! Anyway, back to the game!"

— Lauren O'Neal (@laureneoneal) July 21, 2021

Updated

Suns 39-36 Bucks, 3:11, 2nd quarter

The free throws are a big part in the Phoenix comeback here. Ayton gets to the line and gets both. Giannis knows he has to answer here and he does with a hookshot to keep pace.

Suns call a timeout after a few misses for both teams.

Suns 37-34 Bucks, 3:52, 2nd quarter

Giannis to the line and now he misses one… but makes the second, it’s a single-point Phoenix lead.

Never mind, Paul with a jumper to extend things!

Suns 35-33 Bucks, 4:18, 2nd quarter

And Ayton gets to the line, that’s a foul on Middleton, and he makes his free throws and Phoenix has a lead. Game Seven is back on the table.

Suns 33-33 Bucks, 5:20, 2nd quarter

And hat was coming. Chris Paul dusts off the cobwebs and makes a layup and it’s a tied game. Brutal quarter for the Bucks.

Suns 31-33 Bucks, 6:21, 2nd quarter

Bridges cuts the Bucks lead back to three points, Milwaukee has let the momentum slip. He then gets on the line after a Portis foul and makes one-of-two. Just two points now.

Suns 28-33 Bucks, 6:43, 2nd quarter

“Dr. Fauci is cringing!” the announcers joke as they show a shot of the fans outside the stadium. Yeah this is super-funny joke material, guys. Portis gets on the line and makes two free throws but Booker responds quickly with a basket.

Suns 26-31 Bucks, 7:32, 2nd quarter

Oh never mind, Portis is the stopper here scoring off a Holiday assist.

Suns 26-29 Bucks, 8:25, 2nd quarter

Jae Crowder is one the line and he hits both and this is a one-possession game somehow now.

Suns 24-29 Bucks, 8:47, 2nd quarter

Giannis with another block, the Bucks could do with some scoring in the second though. Connaughton attempts a long three and he doesn’t make it. It’s going good for Phoenix’s Camerons: Johnson hits a three pointer to cut the Bucks lead to five as Milwaukee has gone quiet on offense.

Lopez gets called for a foul and wants an explanation, so we get a Bucks timeout.

Suns 21-29 Bucks, 10:17, 2nd quarter

Payne scores once again, this is a three-pointer, and Giannis gets called for travelling. Solid start for the Suns.

Suns 18-29 Bucks, 10:34, 2nd quarter

That was the lowest scoring first quarter of the Suns’ playoff run and it felt like it. Both teams look not great to start the second. Payne, Phoenix’s leading scorer so far, gets things going finally.

The Suns looked super-washed there in the first quarter after a series where they’ve been fighting the whole way through. Milwaukee has to love what they’re seeing.

Suns 16-29 Bucks, end of the 1st quarter

Lopez tips in a rare Giannis missed layup to complete the scoring and despite an inept start scoring-wise, Bucks have a 13 point lead. Can they maintain it for three more quarters is the question.

Suns 16-27 Bucks, 45.2, 1st quarter

Giannis with a score but Payne gets his second straight basket. Ayton gets called for a foul that puts Giannis back on the line and he gets his third and fourth free throws.

Suns 14-21 Bucks, 2:07, 1st quarte

“Music by Robin Thicke.” There is no way in the world he is actually still making music, we are living in a simulation, this is clear

Out of the break Ayton misses a layup, gets the rebound, gets it to Booker… who misses a three. Welp, back to the drawing board I guess.

The Bucks can’t score however and this time Cameron Payne hits a three that’s immediately answered by this Bobby Portis guy.

Suns 11-18 Bucks, 3:09, 1st quarter

Frank Kaminsky is on the Bucks? Frank Kaminsky is on the Bucks. I may have noted his presence in Game 1 but that feels like aeons ago for me.

Bobby Portis with a three. It’s time for a Phoenix timeout.

Suns 11-15 Bucks, 4:05, 1st quarter

Middleton gets called on a foul. The crowd doesn’t like that. Pat Connaughton gets called on a foul on a Deandre Ayton layup. The crowd really doesn’t like that. He misses the foul shot. They’re okay with that.

Crowder with a jumper gets the Suns closer, but he then gets called for a second foul.

Suns 7-15 Bucks, 4:51, 1st quarter

Bridges makes a jumper and then Middleton racks up five straight points, because he’s just been racking them up like that.

Suns 5-10 Bucks, 5:54, 1st quarter

So little offense to start this game that I couldn’t find an in-game picture to put here on the front. This is better: Middleton finds Holiday for an immediate score and on the other end he gets a steal and a dunk to give the Bucks a push.

Suns 5-6 Bucks, 6:51, 1st quarter

The Suns are now 1-for-8 and clearly settling. The Bucks should capitalize… but instead they turn it over. Weight of history weighing them down? Chris Paul, who should feel that more than anybody, hits a three and the Bucks call a timeout and have a discussion about what the heck is going on with their possessions.

Suns 2-6 Bucks, 7:58, 1st quarter

Jae Crowder gets called on a foul. Giannis’s first free throw rolls around the rim an then falls in. His second is straight money.

Suns 2-4 Bucks, 8:43, 1st quarter

Jrue Holiday to Brook Lopez to break the scoring drought. Lopez also gets a steal on the other end.

Suns 2-2 Bucks, 9:17, 1st quarter

24 second violation for the Bucks, a few misses back-to-back. Both offenses a little nervous here to stop. One imagines things will settle down as the game goes on.

Suns 2-2 Bucks, 10:48, 1st quarter

Bucks don’t score on the first possession, but on the next Giannis blocks a shot and takes it back to the other end for a score. The crowd is loud but Booker silences them.

Opening tip

Suns 0-0 Bucks, 11:37, 1st quarter

The crowd is loud and chanting. We have started! Chris Paul misses, the Milwaukee crowd loves it!

“65,000 expected outside.” Hey this would be really cool to see like summer two years ago, it’s borderline scary right now and it’s weird that the broadcast is just skipping over this fact!

Okay now we get the Official Real Actual NBA Montage, complete with the Spike Lee intro.

Of course, these days I immediately associate Spike Lee with commercials so it took me a second.

I keep thinking that these commercials featuring basketball playeers are the Official NBA Montages. It’s just impossible to separate Content and Advertising these days.

And we’re at the official game time. We’ll be tipping off… at some point in the next twenty minutes. I don’t know anymore when it comes to these ABC broadcasts.

Oh, it should also be noted that Scott Foster is one of the officials in Game 6. He and Chris Paul have some, uh, history. So look forward to some conspiracy theories if the Suns lose tonight.

Phoenix Suns starters

The Suns starters have been great, so no surprise here. They’re going to need a better showing from their bench, however.

Chris Paul, PG

Devin Booker, SG

Mikal Bridges, SF

Jae Crowder, PF

Deandre Ayton, C

@HunterFelt I've had my nap, I've got my snacks, it's still 28 degrees in my living room but I'm so ready for a masterclass from Booker or Antetokounmpo. Which one, I'll leave that to the professionals to predict

— Ben (@BenOfYorkshire) July 21, 2021

I don’t see Booker going on scoring binges because I don’t think the post-Shaq Kobe is the type of player the Suns need if they want to extend this series. Meanwhile, the Bucks are doing quite well if Giannis playing the way he’s playing.

Milwaukee Bucks starters

They rightfully believe that there’s no reason for them to change their starting lineup.

Jrue Holiday, PG

JR Tucker, PF

Khris Middleton, SG

Giannis Antetokounmpo, SF

Brook Lopez, C

Email from Ronald Mazerolle:

I still feel that the Suns are going to win the series. GO BUCKS GO!!!

I am not going to lie, this definitely feels like an NBA Finals that should go seven games, it’s been incredible on a game-to-game basis.

I am not going to lie I am not entirely comfortable with this image hitting my Twitter timeline directly alongside the latest horrifying news about the spread of the Delta variant.

The @Bucks expanded their Deer District to allow up to 65k fans for tonight's Game 6 👏pic.twitter.com/8KPopB2yrL

— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 20, 2021

Bill Walton is the next guest on this pre-NBA Finals Anthony Anderson talk show which is making me wonder why we don’t just get a half-hour of Bill Walton discussing... I dunno... which of the Grateful Dead keyboardists best represent each of the Phoenix Suns starters. “Jae Crowder is Brent Mydland, he will go for the three-ball every time and it’s cringeworthy when he misses but when he is hitting ooh baby the whole group is lifted.”

Celebrities:

This is one of the most impressive lists of celebrities to ever be in one place in Milwaukee.

Among the confirmed celebrities attending Game 6 tonight in Milwaukee:

Kanye West
Dave Chappelle
Chris Tucker
Chance The Rapper
Gucci Mane
Julius Erving
Aaron Jones
Donald Driver
Antonio Freeman
Michael Redd
Desmond Mason
Marques Johnson
Brandon Jennings (#BucksInSix)

— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) July 20, 2021

Chris Tucker is also the guest in this pre-NBA Finals episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live But Actually Hosted By Anthony Anderson. I’m going to take a wild guess and say it’s pre-recorded.

Predictions

I voted for the Suns to win it, albeit in five games. Unless time is flowing differently than it normally does and we’re in some kind of Philip K. Dick situation, that’s not going to happen. Still, if the Suns force Game 7 and then win this whole thing then I’m just going to look like a coward. I’m saying Suns win this game and go on to win this series.

Am I wrong? Momentum says that I’m absolutely wrong, but what says you? Send us your predictions here either through email (to hunter.felt.freelance@theguardian.com) or via Twitter (to @HunterFelt).

The Devin Booker Situation

If the Suns were ahead of this series, and if a few more baskets had gone their way in Game 5 that’s what we would be looking at here, we’d be talking about Devin Booker as if he were a Finals MVP frontrunner. Instead, we’re looking at him as possibly being a problem with the Suns, despite the fact that he bounced back from a dismal Game 3 to have back-to-back nights where he scored 40 points and yet—like his fantastic near-dunk on Saturday—it won’t count if the Bucks complete their mission in today’s game.

Is this a case of one player trying to do much (there’s a real question of whether if his “taking over a game” is the best way for the Suns to play basketball) or is this just a case of the Bucks’ best player simply just having the better series (Giannis too has had back to back 40 point games this series, although it includes a Milwaukee loss in Game 2)? Well, how he plays today and whether the Suns manage to win or not will 100% determine how this is remembered.

Preamble

I don’t know: maybe there is a Phoenix Suns curse. They came into the NBA Finals as heavy favorites because it looked like Giannis Antetokounmpo was going to be too injured to be anything close to 100%. Now, by Game 2, Giannis was looking like his old self, but Phoenix still managed to put together a 2-0 lead. Even when the Bucks tied it up 2-2, the Suns were headed home for Game 5 and looked like they had a good chance to pull up 3-2 and still have a potential Game 7 at home.

Instead, after a spiriting comeback attempt came short on Saturday, the Suns are heading back to Milwaukee and the Bucks have a chance to prevent this series from lasting seven. It feels like this could be another brutal finish for a Phoenix team that hasn’t won a championship in its history despite having the peaks of Charles Barkley (whose career as a gaffe-prone analyst has overshadowed his life as a dominant player during the 1990s) and Steve Nash (whose “Seven-Seconds-Or-Less Suns” never won a ring, but revolutionized professional basketball during their lifespan). It also would mean that the Point God Chris Paul would have struck out in his best chance to win his only ring. (Barkley too has experience with this.)

Of course, it’s not like the Bucks have had a history of nonstop success since they last won a championship with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar back in the 1970s. If they win it will be a remarkable achievement, especially after being completely outplayed (lest we forget) in the first two games of the series. There’s no doubt that Antetokounmpo—playing an all-around fantastic game, providing both clinching dunks and key blocks—is geared up for an NBA Finals trophy but my lord can we say a few words for Khris Middleton who has been Milwaukee’s best scorer for much of this three-game winning streak? He should be regarded as a star following this postseason.

So will the Bucks seal a championship or will the Suns force an Epic Game Seven? We don’t know, but the Larry O’Brien Trophy is in the building and that always makes things more exciting! If you want to contribute to today’s liveblog this could be the last time, maybe the last time this year, I don’t know! Email your thoughts to hunter.felt.freelance@theguardian.com or tweet them to @HunterFelt and we’ll use them as we go on. It’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Phoenix Suns and the Milwaukee Bucks! Official tip-off time is 9:00 pm EST but national TV coverage means it’ll probably be a tad later and—either way—we’ll be back a lot sooner!

Hunter will be here shortly. In the meantime here’s a look back at Saturday’s gripping Game 5 in the desert.

Contributor

Hunter Felt

The GuardianTramp

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Giannis Antetokounmpo poured in 41 points as the Bucks won 120-100 over the Suns in Game 3 of the NBA finals on Sunday night in Milwaukee

Agencies

12, Jul, 2021 @2:50 AM

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Milwaukee Bucks on brink of NBA finals after Game 5 win over Atlanta Hawks
The Bucks defeated the Hawks on Thursday without Giannis Antetokounmpo to move one win away from the team’s first NBA finals appearance since 1974

Agencies

02, Jul, 2021 @3:14 AM

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Chris Paul scores 32 in NBA finals debut as Phoenix take Game 1 from Milwaukee
Chris Paul had 32 points and nine assists and the Suns beat the returning Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Bucks 118-105 on Tuesday night in Game 1

Agencies

07, Jul, 2021 @3:40 AM

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NBA finals predictions: Bucks or Suns? Our writers share their picks
Will the Bucks end a 50-year drought or can Chris Paul lift the Suns to their first NBA title? Our writers predict the winner, key players and dark horses

Oliver Connolly, Tyrell Feaster, Hunter Felt and Bryan Armen Graham

06, Jul, 2021 @7:30 AM

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Dogged Bucks rally past Suns in Game 4 to level NBA finals at two games apiece
Khris Middleton erupted for a team-high 40 points and the Bucks evened the NBA finals with a 109-103 win over the Suns in Game 4 on Wednesday

Agencies

15, Jul, 2021 @3:50 AM

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Undermanned Milwaukee Bucks tame Hawks to reach first NBA finals in 47 years
Milwaukee defeated Atlanta in the Eastern Conference finals behind Khris Middleton’s 32 points, advancing to the NBA finals for the first time since 1974

Agencies

04, Jul, 2021 @5:04 AM