In one of the most shocking endings in the NBA playoffs so far, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks blew a 17-point lead to Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, losing 114-108. Many viewers marveled at Durant’s performance after seeing him put on a show but also scoffed at what the Bucks did to lose the game — including NBA legend Charles Barkley.
On his popular show, Inside the NBA, Barkley proved just how frustrated he was with Milwaukee after the team’s embarrassing loss. He didn’t hold back, either.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks blew a 17-point lead to the Nets
With Kyrie Irving not playing for the Nets and James Harden coming off an injury of his own, many expected the Bucks to win Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. They appeared ready to do that, too.
Giannis Antetokounmpo looked like a locomotive in the first half, getting to the basket with ease and scoring 17 points before intermission. His running mates, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, also played well, adding 14 and 10, respectively, and the Bucks led 59-43 at halftime.
Milwaukee then led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but the Bucks eventually started falling apart in the period, and Kevin Durant got to cooking. The Nets pulled within six, 87-81, at the end of the third before tying it 91-91 with about nine minutes left.
At that point, Durant was a walking bucket and just simply couldn’t miss. He eventually scored 49 points, pulled down 17 rebounds, and had 10 assists, which helped the Nets rally and win 114-108.
While Durant had a spectacular performance, Barkley seemed more frustrated with the Bucks than he was happy with Durant after the game.
Charles Barkley went off about the Bucks following their embarrassing NBA playoff loss
Barkley is never afraid to say what’s on his mind, and the NBA legend had a lot going on up there after the Bucks’ Game 5 loss to the Nets.
“I had two great coaches in high school … when we played like crap on the road, they wouldn’t stop at a fast-food joint on the way home; I wouldn’t feed them dudes on the plane,” Barkley said to his cohosts on the June 15 episode of Inside the NBA. “… That was embarrassing for basketball, to lose that game. You could tell they were going to lose the game at halftime.”
Barkley continued: “When you do dumb stuff, and it works, you keep doing dumb stuff. When they were doing dumb stuff in Game 1 and Game 2, you’re like, ‘Well, that’s how they play, Chuck.’ I’m like, ‘So?’ They’re killing them in the paint, but they’re going to keep jacking up threes just because ‘that’s how they play.’ Like Herm Edwards said, ‘You play to win the game.’ That was one of the dumbest games, and, man, I am so mad right now because they got a bunch of really good guys, and they played dumb, and they deserved to lose that game.”
Barkley then gave a shout-out to Durant, and Jeff Green, who added 27 points, but said the Bucks’ poor play also had something to do with the Nets’ win.
The Hall of Famer clearly wasn’t happy with Milwaukee’s performance, and for good reason. The Bucks had an excellent opportunity to win on the road and go up 3-2 in the series, but they squandered a 17-point lead and fell behind 2-3.
So, are the Bucks done?
Can the Milwaukee Bucks bounce back?
The biggest question moving forward in the series is in regards to both Irving’s and Harden’s health, respectively. While Irving missed Game 5, the latter played for the first time since Game 1 but didn’t contribute much offensively, as he scored just five points and shot 1-of-10 from the field.
If neither are fully capable of playing the way they typically do, Durant will have to put on another performance like he did in Game 5, which will be hard to replicate. However, given the Bucks’ history of not living up to expectations in the playoffs, and after seeing them blow a 17-point lead in Game 5, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could disappoint again and end up losing the series, despite the Nets not having a mint condition Irving or Harden.
The Bucks have a ton of talent and one of the best players in the world in Antetokounmpo, but if they don’t — as Barkley said — stop “doing dumb stuff,” they could lose in the postseason yet again.
Game 6 could be the biggest game of the season so far.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference