The Milwaukee Bucks are one win away from the Eastern Conference Finals. On Monday, the Bucks beat the Boston Celtics 113-101 and now have a 3-1 lead over the Celtics as the series returns to Milwaukee.
There is a good chance that the Bucks close out the series on their home court. If the Bucks close out the series at home, their bench could play a key role. In fact, they have been key in the last two games. The Bucks have played well in their wins and a big part of their success is their bench.
In Game 4, the Bucks had their share of foul trouble. Giannis Antetokounmpo picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. This forced the Bucks to take him out of the game until the fourth quarter. Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe also picked up four fouls in the third quarter. The three Bucks’ starters sat on the bench for the remainder of the third quarter.
Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer admitted his concern as his starters sat on the bench.
“If we’re honest, you see Giannis and Khris go to the bench, you’re concerned,” Budenholzer said.
The Bucks were without their best players and could have given up their lead. In other words, this was an opportunity for the Celtics to gain a significant lead over the Bucks. However, the Bucks utilized their bench and their bench delivered.
The Bucks’ bench went on a 17-7 run to end the third quarter. The Bucks led the Celtics 80-72 at the end of the third quarter. Then, the Bucks kept their lead as Antetokounmpo returned in the fourth quarter.
George Hill had 15 points off the bench, scoring nine of his points in the third quarter. He came off the bench and was crucial for the Bucks in the quarter. But, he was not alone. Pat Connaughton had nine points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Hill and Connaughton are focal points of the Bucks’ “Bench Mob.”
Connaughton spoke out the importance of the “Bench Mob” after the game.
“Some nights, the starters might not have it going,” Connaughton said. “The effort and the energy when we check into the game. That’s something George, me, everybody on the bench prides ourselves in. That is the ‘Bench Mob.'”
The bench had a great Game 4 but also played a big part in Game 3. In Game 3, Hill had 21 points and Connaughton had 14. The bench outscored Boston’s bench by 26 points. This was crucial as one of the Bucks key players Eric Bledsoe shot 26.7 percent. The bench stepped up when the Bucks needed them most.
The Bucks have won the last three games of this series. Game 5 is an opportunity to end the series. Antetokounmpo plays a big part in the Bucks’ success, but he also understands the importance of the bench. He spoke highly of the bench after the game.
“They’ve been the difference-maker in this series,” Antetokounmpo said. “It’s great to have guys who can step up like that from the bench.”
The series is now theirs for the taking. If the “Bench Mob” has a game similar to their previous games, the Bucks should easily advance to the next round.
Featured image courtesy of USA Today