Milwaukee, Antetokounmpo defend home court, win Game 3 of NBA Finals

Phoenix leads series 2-1


Michael Tipton (Flickr)

The Suns finished the season with their best record ever

Daniel Moreno, Reporter

The Suns looked hot to begin Game 3 of the NBA Finals — keeping pace with a Milwaukee Bucks team who seemed inspired by their fans and determined to remain aggressive.

Phoenix eventually stumbled and simply couldn’t seem get their rhythm back.

Bucks’ power forward Giannis Antetokounmpo followed up his 42 points last game with another 41-point game tonight, alongside a rejuvenated Jrue Holiday (21 pts.) at point guard.

The first quarter featured Suns’ center Deandre Ayton vs Antetokounmpo with both players taking over the paint area on either side. However, Antetokounmpo continued to get trips to the foul line, highlighting an issue for the Suns so far in the series.

A hopeful beginning to the second for Suns fans saw Phoenix go up by as many as six points.  However, a 14-2 run in the middle of the quarter would swing momentum back towards the home team.

The Bucks ended the quarter ahead by 15 points, 60-45.

Suns shooting guard Cameron Johnson (14 pts.) held the game together with a ferocious dunk, bringing the Suns within four points with 5:22 remaining in the third. But, when the Bucks needed him most, Holiday responded with multiple 3-pointers.

The Suns could likely sense the insurmountable momentum at the end of the third quarter after going down by 21. With no home crowd to urge them to a comeback, the Suns were never able to recover from the deficit, and the Bucks strolled to their first Finals win since 1974, 120-100.

If the Suns hope to bounce back and take a 3-1 series lead, they will need more out of Booker and small forward Mikal Bridges, who had arguably the biggest game of his career last Thursday.

The Suns could also help their cause by gang rebounding to offset the Bucks’ size advantage, especially Antetokounmpo, and keeping the Bucks from second-chance points.  In Game 3 Milwaukee had 20 second-chance points to only two for Phoenix.

Suns Head Coach Monty Williams put the team’s Game 3 performance in simple terms during his YouTubeTV/ABC postgame interview.

“They played with a great deal of aggression for longer stretches than we did.  We knew it was coming – we did not respond to it well tonight, especially in the second and third quarters,” said Williams.  “It was a tough lesson for us to learn.”

Game 4 is scheduled for Wednesday, July 14, in Milwaukee, when the Bucks will once again look to use their aggression and home-court advantage to even the series.