The Bucks trailed in the beginning minutes of the fourth quarter, their team on the verge of an effectively insurmountable 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals. Then, Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo took over the game, leading Milwaukee to an essential Game 4 victory by a final score of 109-103. With the win, Milwaukee and Phoenix have split the first four games at two apiece.

Middleton registered 40 points on the night, hitting a bevy of shots from nearly all areas of the court. “Everybody’s banged up. You just have to give it your all and leave it all on the court,” Middleton noted after the game. Antetokounmpo had 26 points, as well as a host of eye-popping defensive plays – including one that arguably sealed the victory for Milwaukee against Deandre Ayton with just over one minute to play in the game. “Going down the stretch, just do whatever it takes to win the game. Just put yourself in a position that can win the game,” Antetokounmpo said of his defensive heroics.

“They have been through the most together. They have endured the most. They have been criticized for everything they have done here, and they have also got the glory … But they know the pressures that comes with that, and they have exceeded all those expectations. For them to be able to perform on each stage, and especially a stage like this, is awesome to see, and I’m blessed to be a part of it,” Bucks guard Jrue Holiday said of the Middleton-Antetokounmpo tandem. The two have played in 12 playoff series together, including 62 games suiting up in the same uniform in the postseason.

“We played so many games together. But there was a specific time, I think it was in the playoffs against Toronto. We played at home. He wasn’t feeling great. But he played the game, and he gave everything for the team and for us. You know, that’s when I realized, ‘Yeah, that’s the guy I want to be on the line with and go through the journey with,” Antetokounmpo said of his relationship with Middleton.

The Bucks were almost unable to overcome the incredible offensive showing put on by Devin Booker, who was nearly automatic both from mid-range and beyond the arc. Foul trouble for Booker would be difficult for him to overcome late in the game, though, and the star arguably should have fouled out multiple times in the fourth quarter.

“Closing a game like this in the NBA Finals, obviously it means a lot. It felt good. But we cannot be satisfied,” Antetokounmpo mentioned about the critical game.

Game 5 will be in Phoenix on Saturday night.

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