MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Bucks took their first step towards making the NBA Finals an extended collection.
Taking part in in a Finals sport in Milwaukee for the primary time since 1974, the Bucks defeated the Phoenix Suns 120-100 in Recreation 3 on Sunday. The Suns lead the collection 2-1, and Recreation 4 is Wednesday (9 p.m. ET, ABC).
A change in location and venue altered the tone of the collection.
In a sport the Bucks couldn’t afford to lose, two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo delivered a particular efficiency.
Milwaukee relied on Antetokounmpo’s particular, virtually unstoppable model of bully-ball. He scored a game-high 41 factors, together with a powerful 13-for-17 from the foul line. He additionally had 13 rebounds and 6 assists.
“There’s a whole lot of methods you’ll be able to spin it, however they performed with a substantial amount of aggression for longer stretches than we did,” Suns coach Monty Williams mentioned. “We knew it was coming. We didn’t reply to it effectively tonight, particularly within the second and third quarters. The turnovers actually damage us, factors within the paint, all the pieces we have now been speaking about the entire collection. So it was a tricky lesson for us to study.”
The Suns had 5 gamers in double figures, led by Chris Paul’s 19 factors. Deandre Ayton had 18 factors and 9 rebounds. Jae Crowder additionally had 18 factors.
Listed here are three keys to the Bucks’ win:
Greek Freak dominates
It’s truthful to surmise that Antetokounmpo isn’t 100% after sustaining a hyperextended left knee in Recreation 4 in opposition to Atlanta within the Jap Convention finals after which lacking the ultimate two video games of that collection.
However he’s nonetheless a dominant pressure.
Following up his 42-point, 12-rebound effort in a Recreation 2 loss, Antetokounmpo feasted within the paint in Recreation 3, scoring 28 of his factors inside, together with 24 on 12-for-12 taking pictures within the restricted zone.
He scored 11 factors within the second quarter when the Bucks jumped to a 60-45 halftime benefit. Antetokounmpo additionally had 16 factors within the third because the Bucks constructed a 98-76 benefit headed into the ultimate quarter.
The Bucks had not led by double digits within the collection till Recreation 3 and had a 20-point lead for a lot of the fourth quarter, together with a 101-76 benefit on Antetokounmpo’s dunk with 11:18 left within the sport.
“We all know what sort of sport this was going to be,” Antetokounmpo mentioned. “We knew that if we lose the sport, you’re within the gap, 3-0 or regardless of the case is likely to be. We knew that we needed to come right here and play nice basketball, so I knew that.”
Middleton, Vacation ship for first time in collection
Middleton’s playoff statistics in wins and losses is a lesson in contrasts. In losses, he shoots 34% from the sector and 21% on 3s and averages 18 factors. In wins, it’s 49%, 42% and 26 factors.
And within the first two video games of the Finals, Middleton and Vacation had been a mixed 28-for-77, together with 7-for-25 on 3s.
Milwaukee wants offense from its second- and third-best gamers to have an opportunity on this collection, and it obtained it from Middleton and Vacation in Recreation 3.
They mixed for 39 factors and 8-for-17 on 3s. Vacation additionally had 9 assists, and Middleton added seven rebounds and 6 assists.
“”A part of it’s being house however simply staying aggressive,” Vacation mentioned. “The fellows inform me to proceed to be aggressive as a result of that is what is going on to be finest for our staff. I am fairly certain, even any individual like Khris can inform you, only a shooter who’s going by way of a droop, proceed to shoot and that is what I did.”
Suns’ 3-point taking pictures woes
Earlier than the sport, Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer was requested in regards to the randomness of a make-or-miss league.
“The randomness makes sport stunning,” he mentioned. “Because the coach, yeah, it is form of depressing.”
Phoenix shot 2-for-14 on 3s within the first half, and Devin Booker was 2-for-11 from the sector and 1-for-6 on 3s within the first two quarters. He completed with simply 10 factors after scoring within the 20s within the first two video games.
“I feel I can get higher (shot makes an attempt),” Booker mentioned. “We’ll make that occur. The purpose of the sport is to win it, and there have been different issues that went on all through the sport. You possibly can say it is a make-miss sport, however on the finish of the day it’s important to make the opposite staff miss and get straightforward alternatives in your staff. We did not try this tonight.”
Milwaukee restricted Phoenix’s 3-point success as a staff. The Suns had been 20-for-40 in Recreation 2 however shot simply 9-for-31 (29%) on Sunday.
Comply with Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter @JeffZillgitt.
This text initially appeared on USA TODAY: NBA Finals: Giannis powers Bucks rout of Suns in Recreation 3