Milwaukee Bucks: Khris Middleton delivers a performance for the ages in Game 6

Jun 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports)
Jun 17, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA (Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports) /

When the Milwaukee Bucks needed it most, Khris Middleton delivered.

With their backs against the wall, the Bucks staved off the end to their 2020-21 season by taking home a 104-89 victory in Game 6 at Fiserv Forum to force a winner-take-all Game 7 back in Brooklyn Saturday night. It didn’t come without some nervy moments along the way, but Middleton did his best to keep the Bucks on track before pulling away in the fourth quarter.

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Scoring 38 points on just 11-for-16 shooting (5-for-8 from 3-point range, 11-for-12 from the free throw line), 10 rebounds, five assists as well as five steals in nearly 42 minutes of action.

If that’s impressive, the fact that Middleton is the only player in NBA history to produce that stat line in a playoff game only adds to how immense the two-time All-Star was for the Bucks throughout Thursday night.

Khris Middleton helped the Milwaukee Bucks fight off elimination in Game 6

All night long, Middleton was the Bucks’ metronome as he set the tone for their offense and certainly gave them life all while putting together his career night on a playoff stage.

Middleton was the outlet for the likes of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jrue Holiday behind the 3-point line as he propped up a rather porous 3-point shooting performance (the Bucks shot 7-for-33 from deep on the night).

More than that, though, Middleton was in his bag as he hunted the Nets’ susceptible defenders all throughout the night that surely helped him get to the free throw line as much as he did. Just look at this footwork that Middleton showed to separate from Nets wing Landry Shamet on this baseline fadeaway midway through the third quarter.

Considering the start Middleton got off to at the beginning of this series, it’s safe to say he has found his rhythm as his Game 6 masterpiece showed. And the fact that it all came just over 48 hours after enduring through their second half catastrophe in Game 5 didn’t create undue pressure for Middleton and the Bucks as he talked about after the game with Steve Megargee of the Associated Press:

"“We don’t think about any type of pressure at all,” Middleton said. “It’s a basketball game. It’s as simple as that. I know it’s lose-or-go-home, but at the same time, it’s just basketball. You’ve got to have fun with it. Those moments are fun, you know, when the game’s on the line.”"

And as his superstar teammate, Antetokounmpo, talked about after the game, the Bucks are well aware of feeding Middleton when he’s dialed into his rhythm as he was all throughout their Game 6 win:

"“You know in those moments, he’s going to make the right play,” Antetokounmpo said. “We know that when he feels good, we’ve got to give him the ball.”"

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With everything to play for, Middleton was there to hit timely shots and fend off the Nets as they were making their runs and at times when the game got tight. Time will tell whether the Bucks come out of this series going back to the Eastern Conference Finals for the second time in three years, but Middleton helped put the Bucks into that position and at least live another day.