Milwaukee Bucks: How Brook Lopez turned back the clock in Game 5

Jul 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 1, 2021; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

With Giannis Antetokounmpo slated to miss Game 5 with an injury, everyone wondered who would step up for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Rather than one player looking to replicate the two-time MVP’s production, it was undeniably a collective effort from the Bucks, who steamrolled their way to a 123-112 victory. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday were fantastic, while Bobby Portis delivered a show-stopping performance in his first-ever career playoff start, but the man who stole the show above everyone else was big man Brook Lopez.

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Coming out aggressive from the opening tip, Lopez had himself a career night by chipping in 33 points on 14-of-18 shooting from the field. Not only was the big man thriving on the offensive end, but he made a massive impact elsewhere by hauling in seven rebounds and blocking four shots.

When asked postgame how he went about stepping up in Antetokounmpo’s absence, Lopez stayed humble and assured that this was a team effort:

"“I’m prepared for whatever is asked for me by the team, but it’s absolutely just everyone stepping up together to fill that. You know, obviously, no one can replace Giannis, he’s a freaking two-time MVP and so much of what we do, and no one person is going to replace that. It’s a matter of everyone stepping up and I think everyone showed that they were capable of doing that tonight.”"

Brook Lopez was dominant in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals for the Milwaukee Bucks

While he will not admit it, Lopez was nothing short of phenomenal in this game, particularly on the offensive end. The Bucks had often used Lopez as a floor spacer when Giannis plays, but the Greek Freak’s absence allowed the big man to play more of his game. That is not to suggest by any means that Lopez and the Bucks are better when their two-time MVP is not on the floor, just that it allows their man in the middle to play more “freely” with the ball in his hands.

After all, many forget that Lopez is the leading scorer in the history of the Brooklyn Nets, and he achieved that feat without a 3-point shot in his arsenal. With that lane cleared last night, fans saw the return of “Brooklyn Brook,” as they call him, as he was virtually unstoppable close to the basket. Notching a new playoff career-high 33 points, it was clear that the team was looking to find him near the rim and let him take care of the rest.

According to, Lopez shot 10-of-11 in the restricted area and a perfect 3-of-3 from the paint (non-restricted area). With many of his points coming from several jaw-dropping dunks that will make their way onto the highlight reel, the towering Lopez tallied 26 of his 33 points in the paint. That mark exceeded the 20 paint points he totaled throughout the first four games of this series entirely.

Lopez’s stellar night offensively overshadowed the mighty impact he had defensively in this matchup. The big man swatted away four shots, doing his part to protect the hoop while also staying active by snatching two steals. With the team committed to switching 1-through-5, Lopez often found himself out on the perimeter guarding much smaller and quicker Hawks, but to his credit, he stuck with it and did a commendable job of holding his own.

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“Brooklyn Brook” triumphantly propelled the Bucks to a massive Game 5 victory last night, and with Antetokounmpo’s status unknown moving forward, the team will need the big man to keep this same aggressive approach.