Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks tighten NBA Finals with Game 3 win over Suns
Giannis Antetokounmpo sprinted the floor. He crashed the offensive glass. He spun. He Eurostepped. He forced his way through the post.
In the end, he left the court with a big exhale.
Looking healthier and healthier since his knee injury, Antetokounmpo scored 41 points to lead the Bucks to a 120-100 win over the Suns in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Sunday
Phoenix still leads the series 2-1. Teams with home-court advantage leading a best-of-seven series 2-1 have won the series 87% of the time. However, those teams have won a road Game 4 just 45% of the time. Game 4 is Wednesday in Milwaukee.
In the second round, the Bucks fell behind 2-0 to the Nets in Brooklyn then won two in Milwaukee en route to the winning the series. So, the Bucks have reason to believe they could flip another series.
Optimism in Milwaukee begins with Antetokounmpo, who played even better tonight than his awesome Game 2. He showed his full complement of moves, rendering his knee troubles an afterthought.
His stat line – 41 points, 13 rebounds and six assists – has been matched only five times in the NBA Finals, by LeBron James (twice), Kevin Durant, Magic Johnson and Jerry West.
Antetokounmpo even shot 13-for-17 on free throws (76%)!
This was the MVP-level performance the Bucks desperately needed.
Behind Antetokounmpo, everything fell into place. Jrue Holiday (21 points and nine assists) played an excellent all-around game with timely shooting, sharp passing and strong defense. Khris Middleton (18 points) helped as a complementary scorer.
Milwaukee closed the second quarter on a 30-9 run then, after the Suns got close, ended the third quarter on a 16-0 run.
Chris Paul (19 points, nine assists and four turnovers) played well, but he didn’t put his typical imprint on the game. Devin Booker (10 points on 3-of-14 shooting) ran cold.
Phoenix really missed Dario Saric at backup center. The Suns got outscored by 13 in five minutes with Frank Kaminsky on the floor before garbage time.
The brightest moment for Phoenix: Cam Johnson annihilated P.J. Tucker with a dunk. The Bucks even (unsuccessfully) challenged, allowing more opportunities to re-watch the demolition:
Deandre Ayton (18 points and nine rebounds) dominated early. Jae Crowder (18 points on 6-of-7 3-point shooting) can take confidence into Game 4.
The Suns still have the upper hand.
But now it’s a series.