One trend that has perhaps been underdiscussed in these always-evolving NBA Finals: The Milwaukee Bucks are one win from the title in large part because their offense has been really, really good.
The Bucks in the Finals have poured in 117.7 points per 100 possessions, a mark that would have edged the Brooklyn Nets for No. 1 in the regular season. The ugliness of some of Milwaukee's meandering half-court possessions obscures how lethal this team can be when it gets rolling.
The easiest path to that is to not play in the half court at all, and a big theme in this series has been Milwaukee's ability to get out in transition. The Bucks aren't running quite as often as they did in the regular season -- when they played in transition more than any team, per Cleaning The Glass -- but they are still doing so at an above-average rate, and that's a win considering the Phoenix Suns were among the very best at keeping teams out of transition.
And the Bucks are scoring just about every time they hit the open floor: 152.9 points per 100 transition chances, according to Cleaning The Glass. The No. 1 team in the regular season by that measure finished at 133.8. Yowza. This is one of the subtler ways Phoenix's lack of size hurts. Deandre Ayton is the only guy in the Suns' rotation even resembling a big man, and he plays near the rim on offense -- meaning he is rarely back early as a deterrent. No other Sun can make Giannis Antetokounmpo at full throttle pause to think for one second.
The Suns have been a little lax with their floor balance and ball control, but the Bucks are opportunistic; they hunt transition chances with constant urgency.
Behind some hot shooting and smart adjustments from Mike Budenholzer in Game 5, Milwaukee's half-court offense -- its weak spot in past playoffs -- is up to about league-average production for the series, per Cleaning The Glass. The Bucks doing that against one of the league's nastiest half-court defenses is almost cause for a parade.
Milwaukee brutalizing Phoenix on the offensive glass has boosted that half-court scoring figure by turning some initially listless possessions into points. Milwaukee has needed all this offense, because the Suns have scored 115.5 points per 100 possessions -- a hair below their sixth-ranked figure in the regular season. Their effective field goal percentage for the series would have ranked No. 2 behind the Nets; it bumped even higher over Games 3, 4, and 5 -- all Phoenix losses. Phoenix is shooting the bejesus out of it.
The Suns have had to, because, as I noted before Game 5, the Bucks have methodically turned this series into a math problem the Suns can't win. The possession battle is a rout for the Bucks. They are getting more offensive boards and free throws. And their defense is scrunching the Suns' offense toward the midrange to a dangerous extreme. Phoenix is getting to the rim at a league-worst rate, and it has attempted just 30 corner 3s -- six per game, down from its regular-season average of 10. Seventeen of those 30 came in Game 2. In the four other games, the Bucks have basically erased the corners from the court.
It's great and not super shocking that Phoenix is shooting so well; the Suns consciously built around two elite shot-makers in Devin Booker and Chris Paul. It's not great that the Suns have to shoot well -- and almost preposterously well -- to have any chance to win. The Bucks have a margin for so-so shooting; the Suns don't.