The Milwaukee Bucks did exactly what they needed to in Game 3 of the NBA Finals. Milwaukee managed to play with desperation without looking desperate. Hustling after every ball and still maintaining composure when needed. And that’s what Game 3 came down to. One team who kept their composure against a team that lost their way. As the Phoenix Suns attempted to keep it together and got more frustrated as they failed to do so, Milwaukee executed their game plan. Foul trouble, turnovers, and missed shots would be the downfall of Phoenix, and the Bucks were all too happy to take advantage and inject some life into this series. Milwaukee looked like a team working as one tonight, credit to coach Mike Budenholzer Game 3 resulted in relief and enjoyment for the Bucks at the expense of immense frustration for the Suns.
NBA Finals – Game 3 Recap
In the first quarter, it looked as though Phoenix might capture the 3-0 series lead. Although Devin Booker was struggling, Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton seemed to have no trouble picking up the slack. Milwaukee fans’ hearts collectively sank when they saw Giannis Antetokounmpo asking to be subbed out just three and a half minutes into the game. Phoenix would take the lead with Giannis off the court. Phoenix would manage to hold the lead when Giannis returned and the first quarter would end 28-25 in favor of Phoenix. However, cracks in the armor had started to show. Ayton had already picked up two fouls by the end of the quarter. Furthermore, Booker showed his frustration at the end when he got tangled with Giannis.
For the first 15 minutes of the game, it was a very even contest. However, with nine minutes left in the second quarter, Milwaukee took control of the game and would not look back. At the time, the Bucks trailed by six points. The remainder of the quarter could only be described as dominance on the part of the Bucks. Milwaukee would put up 30 points, shooting 12-19 from the field and 3-6 from three, with no turnovers. On the defensive side, Milwaukee held Phoenix to nine points, shooting 4-16 from the field and 0-5 from three, and forcing five turnovers. During this run, Milwaukee looked cohesive and composed, with ball movement reminiscent of the Showtime Lakers. Milwaukee carried a well-deserved 15-point lead into halftime.
The third quarter was a shootout. Milwaukee and Phoenix were going back and forth, trading bucket for bucket. Cam Johnson captured himself a few quality highlights. Including a monster dunk over P.J. Tucker and a nifty reverse layup. Jae Crowder also came to play in the third quarter. Lighting it up from beyond the arc. Crowder shot incredibly well and finished 6-7 from three-point range. However, once Phoenix got going, Jrue Holiday joined the party. Holiday shot the lights out in the second half. Recovering his efficiency to finish 8-14 from the field and 5-10 from three. Phoenix had managed to cut the Bucks lead down. Unfortunately, their pressure could not be maintained and Milwaukee once again took over, including a 16-0 Milwaukee run to end the third quarter. Of course, Giannis continued his fantastic play. In three quarters, he put up 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists.
At the start of the fourth quarter, Milwaukee was up by 22. They finished the game easily. Milwaukee remained calm and forced Phoenix to make more hasty mistakes. Baiting the Suns’ key players into turnovers and costly fouls. With both Booker and Ayton playing less than 30 minutes, Phoenix needed support from the rest of their lineup. They got it at times, but Milwaukee was always equal to the task. When Giannis shoots 13-17 from the free-throw line, it’s not your night. Milwaukee was fired up from start to finish and Phoenix could not find an answer.
Milwaukee desperately needed this win, especially following Game 2. Dominating at home is the perfect response to a 2-0 series deficit. Milwaukee will look to repeat the events of their series against the Brooklyn Nets. For now, NBA fans everywhere watch with eager anticipation. We’ve got a fight.
NBA Finals – Game 3 Top Performers
It should be no surprise, Giannis was the top performer in Game 3. Putting up back-to-back 40-point, 10-rebound performances in the NBA Finals is an incredible achievement. Antetokounmpo is the only player to accomplish this feat other than LeBron James in 2016 and Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. However, more impressive is that Giannis managed to shoot 13-17 from the free-throw line. Jrue was another key factor in the Milwaukee win. After starting off slow on offense, Holiday relied on the other facets of his game. Focusing more on playmaking and defending allowed Jrue to find his rhythm. His shooting finally clicked in the third quarter and finished as Milwaukee’s second-highest scorer with 21 points. Bobby Portis was Milwaukee’s final key contributor. Portis posted a solid stat line. However, his biggest contribution was his energy and getting the fans to rally behind their team, a necessity for home dominance.
For Phoenix, no one can really be labeled as a top performer. Every player on the suns either could not get it going or were unable to sustain it once they did. Ayton started off very strong. However, he found himself in foul trouble and play just 24 minutes. Paul played his role well. Unfortunately, Phoenix needed someone to take over. Despite Paul’s solid performance, it was nowhere near enough to trouble Milwaukee tonight. Booker struggled early and often tonight. A rare off night from him and the team. Only putting up 10 points and shooting 3-14 from the field and 1-7 from three-point range. The two players who got it going for the Suns were Crowder and Johnson. Both players had great moments. However, that’s all that they would amount to, moments.
Milwaukee will look to tie up the series, hosting Phoenix for Game 4 on July 14 at 9 p.m. ET.
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