Stars keep dropping as the playoffs grind on, and opportunities keep popping up for understudies because games need to be won and players win them.
Bobby Portis isn’t a star, not in a traditional sense, and neither is Brook Lopez. But Fiserv Forum popped on command from Portis, and Lopez’s long-armed shocking alley-oop dunks sent Milwaukee’s arena into a frenzy — another main character in the Bucks moving to within one game of joining the Phoenix Suns in the NBA Finals.
The Bucks were without Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Atlanta Hawks were without wunderkind Trae Young — giving the perception that both teams were evenly matched.
But the Bucks certainly look like the better team and will likely represent the East in the next round, even if it takes the full seven games to do it. Hardened by heartbreak and toughened by new acquisitions like Portis, they overwhelmed the Hawks early and held them off late for a 123-112 Game 5 win.
Portis slid into the starting spot vacated by Antetokounmpo to score 22 and grab eight rebounds while Lopez took the two-time MVP’s spot in the paint, towering, finishing and giving the appearance the three best and healthiest players are on the team up 3-2. Lopez morphed into a different version of himself, the scorer, and tallied 33 points and seven rebounds.