If there were still any doubts about Khris Middleton's ability to be the Milwaukee Bucks closer, he dispelled them all on Wednesday night.
Middleton kept his team's title hopes within reach, scoring a playoff career-high 40 points -- with 10 in the final 2:07 of the fourth quarter -- in the Bucks' dramatic 109-103 win over the Phoenix Suns in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, knotting the series at two games apiece. Momentum shifted. Status elevated.
"It sets to bed any question about if [Middleton's] a true No. 2 on any team," Detroit Pistons assistant GM Pat Garrity told The DA Show on Thursday. "And I think the thing that you've seen in this playoffs is, if you don't have guys who can create their own shots and make shots in the mid-range -- especially off the dribble -- it's going to be really difficult to score. And so, to me, that was the most impressive thing, with what he did.
"Everybody knew who the ball was going to in the fourth quarter. I mean, they've done that the whole series -- they've put it in Khris Middleton's hands. And the way he's being defended, and the way the series is being called, they're allowing a physical game. And he's still able to rise up, create space, and make shots with that type of defense. It's just been an incredible career and development of him as a player over these last seven, eight years."
Middleton, a 2012 second-round pick, has made 15 game-tying or go-ahead shots between the fourth quarter and overtime this postseason. That's tied with LeBron James (2007) for the most in a single playoffs in the last 25 seasons, per ESPN Stats & Info. Middleton and Bucks two-time MVP winner Giannis Antetokounmpo are also just the third pair of teammates over the last 50 years to each have a 40-point game in a single NBA Finals.
Game 5 of the best-of-seven series will take place Saturday night in Phoenix, with tipoff scheduled for 9 p.m. ET. According to FiveThirtyEight projections, the Bucks currently have a 40-percent chance of winning the championship.
The entire basketball conversation between Garrity and DA can be accessed in the audio player above.
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