The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA Finals to take a 2-1 lead. Giannis Antetokounmpo led his team with 33 points and 10 rebounds, while Khris Middleton added 25 points and Jabari Parker chipped in 22.
The Milwaukee Bucks led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, used late-quarter runs to secure a Game 3 win and climb back into the NBA Finals.
12th of July, 2021
ESPN’s Tim Bontemps
MILWAUKEE, Wis. — In the last five minutes of the first half of Games 1 and 2 at home, the Phoenix Suns seized control of the NBA Finals. The Milwaukee Bucks started their climb back into the best-of-seven series on Sunday night by giving the Phoenix Suns a taste of their own medicine in Game 3.
The Bucks cruised to a 120-100 win at home, reducing their series lead to 2-1 heading of Game 4 on Wednesday night, thanks to a pair of blistering runs to close the second and third quarters — 16-3 over the last 4:52 of the second and 24-6 over the final 5:03 of the third.
“We just have to play better defense,” said Giannis Antetokounmpo, who was absolutely dominating for the second consecutive game, ending with 41 points, 13 rebounds, and six assists in 38 minutes, including a personal 7-0 second-quarter run that put Milwaukee up for good. “I’d want to see you play better defense, rebound the ball better, and get open and run.” Make a driving lane.
“Make room for Jrue [Holiday] to operate, go downhill, get to the areas, play one-on-one, and make the correct play.”
The Bucks had spent the previous three days looking and talking as calm as any squad could be in that situation after falling down 2-0 in Phoenix on Thursday night. They cited their ability to come back from a 2-0 deficit against the Brooklyn Nets in the Eastern Conference playoffs. On Saturday, Antetokounmpo started his post-practice press conference by imitating Marshawn Lynch.
Even so, the Bucks were trailing 36-30 early in the second quarter on Sunday when a jumper from Suns guard Cameron Payne forced Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer to call a timeout, sending a nervous energy coursing through the sold-out Fiserv Forum and the additional 25,000 fans in the Deer District outside the arena.
Things quickly swung back in Milwaukee’s favor. The Bucks went on a 30-9 run to end the first half and regain the lead for good, with Antetokounmpo scoring a slam, a and-1 bucket, and a layup in a 58-second period to put Milwaukee back in ahead halfway through the second quarter.
It was just one of Antetokounmpo’s many dominant moments in the game, as he got whatever he wanted in Games 2 and 3 after easing back into action with 20 points and 17 rebounds in Game 1 — a week after hyperextending his left knee in an ugly fall in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks.
“I just believe whomever gave him the moniker Greek Freak did a fantastic job of it, for real,” said Milwaukee center Bobby Portis, who scored 11 points in 18 minutes off the bench in Game 2 after barely appearing in Game 1. “It’s unique how he’s out there performing and doing all of these various things while just being himself. That, I’m saying, is very uncommon.”
According to ESPN Stats & Information research, Antetokounmpo was able to dominate inside during Game 3, hitting all 14 of his made field goals inside 5 feet of the hoop, making him the first player in the last 25 years to score at least 30 points without shooting a shot outside of 5 feet.
Antetokounmpo said, “I simply read each possession one at a time.” “Every now and again, I’ll be aggressive for two minutes straight.” I’m not always like this. Because Khris [Middleton] or Jrue are being aggressive at the moment, the ball is not in my hands.
“Every possession, every moment of the game, is unique. I don’t have a plan for what I’m going to do. I’m just trying to be out there, one possession at a time, enjoy the game, and make the best play possible.”
But the most noteworthy aspect of Milwaukee’s surge to finish the first half is that, after receiving almost little assistance in Game 2, Antetokounmpo largely sat back and let his teammates do the damage. Only two of the 16 points Milwaukee needed to finish the first half came from the two-time MVP.
“When [Giannis] is on a roll, as he has been the last two games, you simply have to give him the ball, give him his space, and let him go to work,” Middleton said.
“We both know what we can do at the same moment. He is aware of our capabilities. He puts his confidence in us with the ball, and we know we’ll have the greatest opportunity if we play together.”
With that second-quarter burst, the Bucks repeated the formula that had characterized the series’ first two games, only this time in reverse. In Game 1, the score was knotted at five minutes, but the Suns went on a 12-4 run to end the first half and establish a lead they would never relinquish. Phoenix moved from a 41-41 deadlock with 4:53 left in the second quarter to a 56-45 advantage at halftime due to a 15-4 run to end the first half.
The Bucks never went back in ahead in either game in Phoenix, spending the whole second half fighting their way back in. In Game 3, the Suns did the same thing.
The Suns battled back to within 74-70 on a Cameron Johnson 3-pointer with 5:22 left in the third quarter, much as Milwaukee did in Game 2 when Antetokounmpo came out of halftime on a mission to pull his team back into the game. When it seemed like Milwaukee was on the verge of losing, the Bucks cranked up the heat once again.
Antetokounmpo and Holiday combined for 22 of Milwaukee’s 24 points in the last 5:03 of the third quarter, scoring or assisting on 22 of them. Holiday, who had been the subject of considerable debate over the previous 72 hours after two poor offensive performances in Phoenix, kicked off the run by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, perhaps the most important shots of Game 3.
Holiday, who finished with 21 points and nine assists, stated, “I think just taking what the defense gave to us.” “They went into that zone, and sometimes in a zone you get a lot of wide-open 3s, and we took those opportunities or hit those shots.”
“However, it was certainly a team effort believing in ourselves, making the proper plays, the simple early pass, and being able to go out there and have fun and play our game,” Khris added.
The run was completed by Antetokounmpo connecting Pat Connaughton for a 3-pointer to end the third quarter, making the score 98-74 and declaring Game 3 a formality, sparking jubilation in Milwaukee as the Bucks won their first Finals game in 47 years.
The emphasis now turns to Wednesday, when the Bucks aim to earn another victory and make the Larry O’Brien Trophy Finals a best-of-three matchup.
Budenholzer said, “I believe this bunch is simply about getting better, improving, and learning.” “This group always finds a way to win, and they always find a way to improve.”
The phoenix suns game 3 stats is a recent sports article that discusses the Milwaukee Bucks and their late-quarter runs.
- game 3 nba finals 2021
- bucks game 3
- bucks game 4
- nba jul 11, 2021 bucks vs suns
- giannis game 3