We have ourselves a series in the 2021 NBA Finals. After dropping the first two in Phoenix, the Milwaukee Bucks pulled out a much-needed 120-110 win over the Suns in Game 3 at Fiserv Forum Sunday night. With the victory, the Bucks now trail 2-1 in the NBA Finals, which is much more manageable than 3-0, a deficit that’s proven to be historically unsurmountable.
As they have been throughout the postseason, the Bucks were led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who had 40-plus points for the second consecutive game. In all, Antetokounmpo finished with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in 38 minutes of action. It was an extremely impressive performance from the two-time MVP, but he also had his fair share of help.
Jrue Holiday had 21 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 18 points, seven rebounds, and six assists of his own.
Chris Paul led the way for Phoenix with 19 points and nine assists, and DeAndre Ayton added 18 points and nine rebounds, but ultimately their production wasn’t enough.
Game 4 will be a very important part of the series and I think Milwaukee has the game in the bag and in my opinion the series as a whole.
Milwaukee did lose the first 2 games in the series but Giannis is making history. By finishing with 41 points and 13 rebounds, he became just the second player ever to record 40-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in consecutive NBA Finals games. The only other player to do it was Shaquille O’Neal.
He did this by attacking the paint in Game 3. In fact, the 24 points that he scored in the paint tied the record for the most in a Finals game over the last 25 years.
Antetokounmpo’s numbers are extremely impressive, especially considering the fact that he’s playing in his first Finals. He now has 103 total points through his first three finals games, which is the fourth-most all-time, behind only Rick Barry (122 points), Allen Iverson (106 points), and Willis Reed (104 points).
Another huge turning point in game 3 was Antetokounmpo making his foul shots. He attempted 17 foul shots in the game, and he knocked down 13 of them. That amounts to 76 percent, which is a big jump from the 55 percent he’s averaged this postseason.
2021 NBA Finals
The Bucks have realized that they need to be the more aggressive and physical team. The Bucks dominated the Suns in the paint and on the offensive glass, and that ended up being a huge factor in Game 3. Milwaukee grabbed 13 offensive rebounds compared to just six for Phoenix, and in turn, it outscored the Suns 20-2 when it came to second-chance points.
This factor is also evidenced by the free throw totals, as the Bucks shot 10 more free throws than the Suns did in the game 26 to 16. The Bucks set the tone with their physicality, and the Suns never really answered the bell. Moving forward, Phoenix will have to be more physical, and also do a better job of boxing out. But, if Milwaukee can keep up with the physicality they are the favorites in this matchup.