Bobby Portis shines for Bucks as Giannis’ Game 5 replacement

Bobby Portis’ energetic performance propelled the Bucks to a Game 5 win on Thursday night.

The 26-year-old forward stepped up in place of Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was sidelined with a hyperextended left knee he suffered in Game 4 — and shined in his first career playoff start.

Portis rose to the occasion after sitting for most of the Nets series. He recorded a career-best 22 points, to go along with eight rebounds and three assists in the Bucks 123-112 Game 5 win over the Hawks.

The Bucks’ secondary stars stepped up in Antetokounmpo’s absence.

Four of five Milwaukee starters had 22 points or more, including big man Brook Lopez, who impressed in Game 5 with 33 points and seven rebounds. Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday combined for 51 points.

After Game 5, Portis told reporters he didn’t think he was going to start.

“Knowing that Giannis went down and we had to step up, I think that’s what makes the game that much better, when you have to stay locked in and stay in the moment and be ready. I didn’t play the last couple games in the Brooklyn series and I didn’t pout, I just kept working and one my time was going to come,” Portis explained.

“I always just believe when do things the right way and you do things right, it always come back around… I just try to stay in the moment and be a team guy. I give all the credit to my teammates and coaches for just trusting me.”

Bobby Portis celebrates during Game 5.
Bobby Portis celebrates during Game 5.
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Portis explained how the COVID-19 pandemic helped him be “at peace” with his life.

“It really helped me find out more about myself more than anything… Watching guys on TV, not being able to go to the [NBA] bubble, it really hurt… I had to sit out a lot and just wait my time. I got a chance to really work on my game a lot [during the pandemic],” he said. “So that kind of helped me prepare for the moment, but at the same time, it still hurt.”

Portis, last year, was on the Knicks, which didn’t make the NBA Bubble. He later joined the Bucks in November 2020 — after Milwaukee was eliminated by the Heat in the Eastern Conference semi-finals in September.  

“Coming here was of the best decisions for my career-wise,” Portis said after admitting his career began on a “shaky” note, including an altercation with his teammate Nikola Mirotic while with the Bulls in October 2017.

Game 6 in the Hawks-Bucks series is set for Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in Atlanta. If needed, a Game 7 will be played on Monday night.

The winner of the Eastern Conference finals series will play the Suns.

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