The Milwaukee Bucks are now one win away from advancing into the next round after handling the Orlando Magic 121-106 in Game 4 Monday afternoon. The win was the third straight for the Bucks in the series after they dropped Game 1 in surprising fashion. Though the Magic fought hard -- they were down by just three points heading into the fourth quarter -- ultimately they couldn't keep up with the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Orlando will now face elimination from postseason contention in Game 5, which is scheduled for Wednesday.
As he has all season, GIannis Antetokounmpo led the way for the Bucks with 31 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists. The reigning NBA MVP also got some help fellow All-Star Khris Middleton, who finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Nicola Vucevic paced Orlando with 31 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, but ultimately his output wasn't enough.
The Magic are without three key contributors in the series, as Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Issac and Michael Carter-Williams are all sidelined with various ailments, and ultimately it seems as though they just don't have enough firepower to keep pace with Milwaukee. The Magic will have another chance to extend the series in Game 5, but the experience that their young players are getting in this series is very valuable, regardless of the ultimate outcome.
Here are three major takeaways from Game 4.
1. Middleton had his best game of the series
There was speculation all season long about whether or not the Bucks could make a Finals run with Middleton serving as the Robin to Antetokounmpo's Batman, given the fact that the former doesn't always consistently produce at a high level night in, and night out. These concerns carried over into this series, as Middleton struggled through the first three games of action. In Game 4 though he had by far his best game of the series, and that's a solid sign for a Bucks team that will need Middleton to live up to his All-Star potential on a nightly basis if they are truly going to make a Finals run. Middleton finished Game 4 with 21 points and 10 rebounds, both series highs for him. It was the first game in the series that Middleton went over 20 points, and he was especially strong in the fourth quarter, where he shot 6 of 10 from the floor and scored 18 total points. The Bucks need Middleton to take the momentum that he built in that final frame and carry it over to Game 5, and beyond.
2. Fultz continues to show improvement
Markelle Fultz is far from a complete player at this point in his career, but he continues to improve in Orlando. In Game 4, Fultz played for 31 minutes, and finished with 15 points, seven assists, five rebounds and two steals. Perhaps most notably, he also shot 50 percent (2 for 4) from long range. As more time goes on, Fultz continues to look increasingly comfortable running the show for Orlando. This is good news for the franchise, as Fultz obviously figures to play a big part in their future. While he might not be ready to help push the Magic past the Bucks, the experience that he is getting in this series could help him to build confidence moving forward.
3. A varied scoring effort from the Bucks
You don't see this too often, but every single player that checked in for the Bucks on Monday scored at least four points. The Bucks had 11 different players contribute to the scoring column on the final box score -- all five starters and six bench players. This is a testament to Milwaukee's depth, and the fact that it can get contributions from a lot of different players on any given night. While 11 players aren't going to score for the Bucks every game, this varied scoring is a solid sign for a team that will need its supporting cast to step up as the postseason stretches on and teams begin to spend even more effort trying to limit Antetokounmpo's production.